100MW battery jumpstart for north’s net zero journey

SSE Renewables is investing £4m a day to deliver low carbon energy infrastructure

SSE Renewables owns the north's largest wind farm, Slieve Kirk in Co Derry.
SSE Renewables owns the north's largest wind farm, Slieve Kirk in Co Derry

The return of the Stormont Executive has come at a crucial time, particularly for 2030 targets set out in the NI Climate Change Act.

Whether you regard decarbonisation as a revolution or an evolution, there is no doubt that how we power homes and businesses across Northern Ireland has changed dramatically over the past two decades.

Now, with just six years ahead to further harness and roll out the clean, green energy we need, it is essential new policy directions are mapped out which take us to where we need to be.

Since 2008, SSE has invested over half a billion pounds in the development of Northern Ireland’s sustainable energy infrastructure, helping green our economy and secure the region’s energy future.

But this is not the end of our ambition for Northern Ireland.

This has seen us deliver almost 120 megawatts of operational renewable energy generation at our wind farms in the region, including Slieve Kirk in Co Derry and Tievenameenta in Co Tyrone.

As the UK and Ireland’s clean energy champion, FTSE-listed SSE has a Net Zero Acceleration Programme which is guiding progress to deliver the clean energy the world needs now. This is a fully funded five-year investment plan which will see our renewable energy business SSE Renewables investing over £7 billion up to 2027, or almost £4m a day, to deliver the low carbon energy infrastructure to support the UK and Ireland’s transition to net zero.

As part of that programme, we are progressing our first battery energy storage project. Located near Coalisland, Co Tyrone, this project could harness, hold and release energy when most needed.

SSE Renewables batter storage plant
Announcing the acquisition of a 100MW battery storage project near Dungannon are (from left) Daniel Barnes, head of solar and battery development at SSE Renewables; Chris Morrow, NI Chamber of Commerce; and Damien O’Callaghan, managing director at the Heron Group. Picture: Philip Magowan / Press Eye (Philip Magowan/Philip Magowan / Press Eye)

The 100MW Derrymeen battery storage system project, acquired from Heron Energy, is a fully consented, shovel ready project capable of storing up to 200MWh of energy for flexible dispatch when needed for use by homes and businesses at times of peak demand.

When called upon, the system would be capable of providing back-up energy for use by the equivalent of over 135,000 homes here for up to two hours at a time. In doing so, the planned system could harness surplus renewable energy generated from onshore wind and solar generation for use at times when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

We’re targeting delivery of this vital energy infrastructure project by the end of 2026. Over the coming months, we’ll commence a tender process for key contracts, which will afford an opportunity to provide a welcome supply chain boost to the local economy.

SSE’s Ireland chairman Mark Ennis
SSE Ireland chair Mark Ennis

Subject to a final investment decision next year by SSE to begin delivery, we could commence construction in 2025 on what would become the largest installed battery storage facility here.

While the journey to net zero has a long way to go in a short space of time, we’re excited at the possibility that embracing new technologies such as large-scale battery systems can have in helping Northern Ireland complete the vital next parts of the jigsaw to meet its 2030 targets and reach net zero.

  • Mark Ennis is chair of SSE plc in Ireland.