SSE's new Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power station being built at Great Island, County Wexford, has reached a major milestone with the gas turbine having been successfully fired up and synchronized to the grid for the very first time.
This marks the completion of the construction activities at the 460 MW CCGT site and the start of the commissioning activities that will prove the new power station's capabilities before it is formally handed over to SSE in the coming months.
SSE has recruited around 40 staff mostly from Wexford and surrounding counties who will operate the new plant when it becomes fully operational.
The new Great Island clean gas power plant utilizes CCGT technology from Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries which comprises a gas turbine and steam turbine.
During this week's first fire-up process, gas was combined with air and ignited through a combustion process to rotate the gas turbine. The waste heat generated from this process was used to convert water into high pressure steam which was then used to rotate the steam turbine. Any residual steam is converted back into water and recycled through the system. Synchronization of the turbine marks the first export of electricity from the power station to the national grid.
Achievement of first fire-up and synchronization is the culmination of two years' hard work by the SSE project team, led by Head of Construction Charlie Cryans, and the many hundreds of SSE staff and contractors that have been employed on the site since construction work started.
Rhys Stanwix, Director of Thermal Development said: "This is a very major milestone for the project and one that everyone in SSE who has contributed can be justly proud of. We are now entering the final stages of proving the power station's systems and overall performance before receiving the plant from our contractors, where it will form a key part of our energy portfolio in Ireland for many years to come."
Charlie Cryans, Head of Construction, said: “A huge amount of complex planning and activity has been undertaken in recent weeks to test the CCGT systems and processes in advance of the first-firing of the gas turbine. We're all extremely proud that we've achieved this latest milestone and that we're delivering this major construction project on time, on budget and to the highest safety and environmental standards.”
The natural gas CCGT power plant will generate enough to power the equivalent of half a million Irish homes of SSE Airtricity customers. When completed it will be Ireland's cleanest, most efficient and reliable gas power plant on the Irish national grid.