Electricity supply will be ‘tight’ for next three or four years, says Minister Eamon Ryan
The electricity supply in Ireland is going to be tight for the next three of four years, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has said.
And the Green Party leader said big data centres, which use an enormous amount of power, could not expect to be exempt from the national requirement to conserve energy in order to meet climate change commitments.
“It’s a very tight situation for the next two, three, four years, while we build up some battery and gas-fired back-up systems,” the minister said.
“No one is exempt from the need to meet our climate targets and provide energy security. We won't see projects going ahead if they don't have that capability to fit into a low carbon energy-secure system.”
Both the CRU, the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities, and Eirgrid had been doing very extensive analysis and would set out the rules that will apply in future, he said.
“You can have new industry which is actually sustainable, but nothing will go ahead if it doesn't fit in with the plans. No one interest is just going to expand massively and make it impossible for us to meet our, our climate targets or to keep energy security.”
On the possibility of domestic power outages in future Mr Ryan said: “There is a real issue. It has been very tight and is very tight.”
It would be a number of weeks before two power stations hit by Covid, at Whitechurch and Huntstown, come back on stream, he said.
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“It’s a very tight supply issue, but we have a path, we know what we need to do. It's both managing demand and supply. There has to be regulation of demand. The main approach is developing our renewable power supplies.”
He referred to wind turbines at sea, and said Ireland’s sea area was 10 times our land area, making it “probably the most energy rich place on the planet”.
“Wind power at sea is huge, and there's real potential for us to tap into that and be able to power, not just industry, but transport, home heat and the whole range of different needs.”
Ireland needed “balancing power,” as that developed, he said, and this would involved battery storage, gas plants and hydrogen.”
In the future Ireland will be using less gas, he said. “In Ireland the wind blows for most of the time, so we're clear and confident that we can meet our climate-change targets.
“It is tight, because those two large gas plants were out of action for a year, and a lot of other plants are having to go to a maintenance because of Covid.”
Mr Ryan said Eirgrid and the CRU will be coming out this week with their capacity statements with their paths to to manage demand. “And so I think we will be able to manage.”