CAES ‘innovation’ is 30 years old, objector claims

In his letter, headlined “A beacon for innovation” (Larne Times, January 20), Brendan McGrath, CEO, Gaelectric Holdings, stated (in response to East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson): “Rather than creating a ‘blighted town’, this CAES (compressed air energy storage) project will contribute locally and create a beacon for innovation and excellence in electrical engineering and energy storage on a global stage.

“If we are successful in securing the necessary approvals, this CAES project will see Larne position itself once again at the forefront of engineering and demonstrate how Larne’s unique resources can be harnessed to provide power, skills, investment and local jobs.”

The creation of this “beacon for innovation and excellence in electrical engineering” is to be achieved by replicating, at Carnduff, CAES facilities similar to those operating at Huntorf in Germany and Alabama, USA.

Regarding Mr McGrath’s assertion that the project will again see Larne at the forefront of engineering, let’s bear in mind that:

- the technological concept of CAES is more than 30 years old;

- the Huntorf facility was commissioned in 1978;

- the Alabama plant was constructed in 1991;

- a total investment of £300 million will be required to deliver the project;

- between 30-50 jobs will be created during operations.

It seems a very expensive experiment to help Larne catch up, rather than positioning itself “once again at the forefront of engineering”.

Reg Parke