The Irish transmission system operator has unveiled plans for the country to have at least 70% renewable energy on the electricity grid by 2030, in what it says is a “radical transformation” of electricity.
Coinciding with the United Nations Cop26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, EirGrid and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan unveiled the Shaping Our Electricity Future plan.
EirGrid said the plan is the result of “14-week consultation across all sectors of society and two years of research by industry experts and tens of millions of engineering simulations.”
The plan came into being, EirGrid said, after the government asked him to “transform the power system for a future without coal, oil, peat and ultimately one with net zero emissions.”
Specifically, it needs to redevelop the grid to handle the vast majority of Ireland’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, Eirgrid said.
There were 492 submissions from members of the public and 80 submissions from industry.
When developing the plan, EirGrid said it took into account the growth in demand for electricity, the future mix of power generation and its location.
He also looked at what needs to be happening on the network to connect supply and demand, and what should be happening in the market as it is running close to 100%.
The demand will increase between 30% and 50% due to the growth of the industry, the electrification of transport, i.e. electric vehicles, and the electrification of heat in homes and buildings. offices, he deduced.
The next tranche of renewable energy will be dominated by offshore wind in the Irish Sea, EirGrid said.
“We will have even more onshore wind, we welcome the arrival of solar generation from next year and suggest that consumers and households can play a role through solar generation on the roofs of their homes. “said a briefing on the plan.
However, he warned that gas would be needed “as a safety net when wind and solar output is low,” but insisted that this was not at odds with strategy.
“This does not conflict with our transformation plan, the gas will eventually be replaced by hydrogen or some other form of non-carbon generating fuel,” he said.
EirGrid said the plan includes 40 new network infrastructure projects costing more than € 1 billion, adding to an existing € 2.2 billion program of network infrastructure projects with a funding already in place.
The operator said that ultimately “there will be greater control over the location of future production and demand, minimizing the need for new power line development.”
The Minister of the Environment said, “We need to radically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and make the transition to cleaner, more indigenous renewable energy. The increase in renewables will shield Ireland from the volatility of international gas and carbon prices, which are near record highs. ”
The plan paves the way for decarbonization, Ryan said.
“Shaping Our Electricity Future shows a clear path towards realizing our commitments to decarbonize our electricity grid, harness our natural resources and bring renewable energy to the heart of our communities. This will also allow us to meet the expected increase in demand for electricity over the next few years. “