Eirgrid, the national electricity grid operator, has completed an auction with power companies which will lead to the construction of nine new gas generators around the country.

The contracts will see an additional 1,471 megawatts of power added to the national grid, which is equal to approximately one third of current average generating capacity.

It also includes some battery power storage contracts, biomass and 'demand side units'; where large users enter into contracts to reduce their power consumption when asked by the grid operator.

The price per megawatt year generated is just under €147,000. That compares to a price of €47,821 per megawatt year in the 2021 auction, and €46,150 in the 2019 auction.

The tripling in the tariff reflects the massive increase in gas prices on international markets over the past year. The auction guarantees these higher payments for periods of up to ten years, once the plants are up and running.

Eirgrid says the new plants are expected to come online from October 2024.

Any new plants intended to be built had to have applied for planning permission to enter the auction.

Amongst the successful companies were Kilshane Energy for a power station in the Huntstown area of Dublin, Midlands-based Castlelost Flex Gen Ltd, Galway-based EP Energy Developments and the ESB.

The ESB had been fined €4.1m in ‘termination charges’ by the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities for five projects agreed under the 2019 auction, which did not reach agreed targets.

The Minister for Environment, Climate & Communications Eamon Ryan TD welcomed the announcement. In statement he said: "...the provisional auction results published today are a key step towards delivering the generation needed. It is now vital that these projects are developed."

The CRU also welcomed the results.

In a statement it said "...the auction is one of a number of measures outlined in the CRU Information Note published in September, targeted at addressing an increase in security of supply risk identified by EirGrid in their 2021 Generation Capacity Statement."

Under the Government's Climate Action Plan, a target of 80% renewable energy has been set to be achieved by 2030.

However, the need for more modern, gas-fired plants - for times when renewable energy cannot generate enough power - was identified last year. This followed several 'amber alerts’ on the grid, when supply came close to not keeping up with demand.