Wind energy storage plan for Kilroot power station

Kilroot power station AES plans to build the facility at Kilroot power station in County Antrim

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NI's biggest power generator plans to build a huge battery facility that can store energy produced by wind farms.

AES, owner of Kilroot and Ballylumford power stations, plans to build the 100 mega watt (MW) facility at Kilroot.

The company claims the facility will lower the cost to consumers, help meet renewable energy targets and improve the flexibility of the local grid.

It says that depending on "a suitable commercial agreement" it could have the facility operational early in 2015.

It has submitted a connection application to System Operator Northern Ireland (SONI), which operates the electricity grid in Northern Ireland.

Mark Miller, vice president of AES United Kingdom and Ireland, said he was "convinced that the proposed solution will help Northern Ireland meet policy goals while reducing the cost of energy for electricity customers".

AES, which is a US-based company, already operates battery storage facilities that work by 'smoothing' the intermittent output from wind and other renewable energy sources.

The batteries store power when it is abundant and then feed it into the grid at periods of high demand.

The firm's projects has a 64 MW battery system connected to a wind farm in West Virginia.

"Storage arrays have the unique ability to participate as active power system support with no emissions and to provide both supply and load to help manage the variability of renewables," John Zahurancik, vice president of AES Energy Storage said.

"Leveraging existing AES infrastructure will allow us to rapidly deliver reliable, economical power resources on behalf of customers in Northern Ireland."

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