IRELAND faces high possibilities of a very dark winter this year as Eirgrid struggle to meet the supply and demand of electricity.
The news comes as emergency plans to import power generators have stalled, according to a professor of energy engineering at University College Cork.
EirGrid also said Covid-19 has delayed annual maintenance and repair to generators.
Two gas generators located in Whitegate Co. Cork and Huntstown in Dublin, which account for 15 per cent of conventional generation have been out of service since last winter and are still pending repair.
EirGrid has said, that for a variety of factors, “maintaining the balance between supply and demand has become increasingly challenging.”
In a statement, the electricity grid operator said: “Certain types of conventional generation providing additional backup are being phased out in line with European directives.
GROWTH IN DEMAND
“Ireland is experiencing a significant growth in electricity demand.
“These factors have the potential to place increased pressure on the supply-demand balance, particularly when demand for electricity is high and renewable generation is low.”
EirGrid said a process of “securing emergency generation for this coming winter was instigated in recent months.”
Professor Brian O Gallachoir said that over the last 20 years, Ireland has increased the amount of renewable energy in the system.
Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland, he said: “We’ve seen only last week, the international report on climate change gives a greater impetus to us to really reduce emissions across all of the sectors of the economy and transport, heating, agriculture.
“The key challenge in electricity is doing that and at the same time ensuring that we have sufficient energy to keep the lights on and power things we need to go about our daily lives.
“This has been very effectively carried out through policies that build on research and the market signals and the engineering community working together.
“We’ve increased the amount of renewable energy, but we also have increasing demands for electricity.”
The director of the MaREI Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine research and innovation said data centers, electrical vehicles and heat pumps are the new areas of electricity use.
Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan said a number of contingency plans were being pursued to ensure security of energy supply this winter.
OTHER MEASURES ‘BEING PURSUED’
A spokesperson for Mr Ryan said: “Minister Ryan is confident that the two gas-powered plants that are currently out of operation will be up and running in the coming months.
“In addition, a number of other contingency measures are being pursued to ensure security of supply this winter.
“These include increasing the availability of existing generators; the development of new generation capacity; and changes to the grid connection of data centers.”