As part of one of the largest renewable energy investments of the past few years, the former Silvermines mining site in north Tipperary is to be turned into a 360MW hydroelectric power plant, creating 50 permanent jobs at the site.
The plan for Silvermines, to be known as the Silvermines Hydro Electric Power Station Project, will see two Austrian renewable energy tech companies – Strabag and Andritz Hydro – invest €650m in the region, in what will become one of the largest zero-emission power plants in the country.
Meanwhile, Irish construction company Roadbridge will be chartered to construct the site, which is expected to take around four-to-five years to build, with 400 jobs to be created during construction.
Announced by the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly, this morning, an additional 50 jobs will be based at the plant once operational, with expectations of it supplying power to up to 200,000 homes in the region.
Rather than a traditional renewable energy power plant, the consortium of companies says it be a zero-emission plant as wind energy will be used to pump water back into the reservoir at night to avail of the cheaper cost of electricity.
From a negative to a positive
Additionally, it says the project will help clean what is a polluted site due to it being a former mining site by decontaminating the existing water on-site for the benefit of the local area.
Speaking in his statement this morning, Minister Kelly said he envisions that the site, once completed, will have the potential to add €2.5bn to the Irish economy.
“This announcement is a pivotal one for Silvermines, for the wider north Tipperary area and, indeed, the country,” he said. “For Silvermines, it will transform the environmental mining legacy here from a negative to very much a positive and trigger very significant and sustainable investment in the local community at the same time.”
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Rushing water image via Shutterstock