The Saving Power report, published jointly by Energy Storage Ireland and the Irish Wind Energy Association, shows how a strong electricity grid and new low-carbon technologies are essential to achieving Ireland’s 70 per cent renewable electricity target by 2030.
Its priority recommendations include:
- The CRU must give EirGrid and ESB Networks the resources they need to build new grid infrastructure to connect rising numbers of renewable energy projects;
- Ireland must start to replace the fossil fuel back-up currently used on the electricity system with zero-carbon solutions like demand response and energy storage;
- The new interconnectors to Britain and France must be delivered on time and planning should start now for new interconnections in the 2030s;
- Redesign and reinforce the transmission system with a focus on parts of the country where large volumes of renewable energy are expected to be developed.
David Connolly, CEO of the Irish Wind Energy Association, said: “We cannot achieve our 2030 targets with today’s electricity system.
“There are already wind farms in the west of Ireland which are ready to go but are stalled because the transmission system is not strong enough to get power from where it is generated to where it is needed.
“We know that the electricity grid on Ireland’s east coast can only take another 1.5 GW of renewable energy yet the Climate Action Plan aims for 3.5 GW of offshore wind by 2030 and the new Programme for Government increases that ambition to 5 GW.
“In the coming months the CRU will set the budget that EirGrid and ESB Networks will use for the next five years. If they are not given the resources they need to build a 21st century electricity grid then no amount of wind farms or solar farms will be enough to hit our 2030 targets. Industry will not build wind farms to sit idle.”
As well as new grid infrastructure, new technologies will be needed in the coming years, particularly to replace expensive fossil fuel generators currently used to provide back-up services to the electricity grid.
Sam Harden, Chairperson of Energy Storage Ireland, said: “Engineers and researchers in EirGrid and ESB Networks have already shown the world how to achieve what was previously thought impossible, raising the limits on the integration of renewables so that up to two-thirds of our electricity demand can be met with renewable energy at any one time.
“But momentum has stalled and these limits are increasingly forcing the curtailment of renewable generation. We are losing more renewable electricity every year. This means more fossil fuels and more CO2 emissions.
“We need a new electricity system with new technologies. Battery storage, new interconnectors and demand response can end our reliance on fossil fuels to back-up the electricity system. This will save the electricity consumer €117 million annually by 2030 and could cut Ireland’s CO2 emissions by two million tonnes every year.
“An electricity grid and market designed for coal and peat is not fit for a future where 70 per cent of our annual electricity demand is coming from wind and solar. These renewables, supported by storage technology, can deliver a safe, secure, reliable and fossil-free electricity system.”
You can view the report here.