Road Maps

Decarbonisation of electricity in the Irish system will result in annual savings of over 13 million tonnes of CO2 by 2050. Eight million tonnes of this will be derived directly from the implementation of smart grid.

Smart Grid Road Map for Ireland:

  • Greater integration of indigenous renewable energy sources will see a net reduction in energy imports of over 4.3 Mtoe, [equating to savings of €2.4 - 5.2bn in direct fuel offset by 2050]
  • There will be increasing the electrification of thermal loads and transport
  • Overall annual electrical final energy demand will be in excess of 48,000 GWh by 2050 with a corresponding peak demand of 9 GW. Onshore wind generation will be able to supply up to 33,000 GWh of the total demand  (over 70%)
  • By 2025 Ireland will have 1.4 GW  of interconnection. Our analysis indicates that a further 1.6 GW of interconnection will be required by 2040
  • More than 10,000 Irish jobs will be created by the implementation of smart grid infrastructure and its associated technologies

Smart Grids and Climate Change

“The full deployment of a smart grid over the next two decades is necessary for decarbonisation.”

The above quote is from: Ireland and the Climate Change Challenge: Connecting ‘How Much’ with ‘How To’  (Final Report of the NESC Secretariat to the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government), issued yesterday. 

The report examines how Ireland can achieve a carbon free society by 2050. It identifies Five Strategic Building Blocks :

  • An energy system built on wind and other renewables, using a smart grid and integrated into a clean EU energy system;
  • An energy-efficient society that uses renewable forms of energy for heating;
  • A sustainable transport system which serves economic, societal and environmental needs;
  • A world-class agri-food sector working within a carbon-neutral system of agriculture, forestry and land use; and
  • An approach to resource management that provides a competitive and comparative advantage in international trade and factor flows.

Apart from the main report there are 6 background papers with further detail.  Of particular interest are No 5 (dealing with the energy system; the importance of renewables, especially wind; and the necessity for infrastructure (Grid25) to support this development); and No 6 (dealing with final consumption, but focussing on smart grid development).

In report No6 it particularly notes the following : Factors Influencing Smart Grid Roll Out in Ireland:

  1. the integration of high levels of wind onto Ireland’s small and relatively isolated grid has spurred the deployment of aspects of the smart grid.
  2. effectively only one electricity grid and one market on the island of Ireland, there is a single owner of the networks on the island of Ireland (ESB) and a single owner of the System Operation companies (Eirgrid).
  3. the regulatory regime currently supports investment in smart grid deployment as well as appropriate R&D activities.
  4. the role of active stakeholder communication and engagement has been important. This engagement has been coordinated effectively by Smart Grid Ireland, which is an industry led network of organisations based in or operating out of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Member organisations are drawn from industry, research bodies, universities and government agencies. SEAI has also taken a leading role in coordinating the voice of various stakeholders by convening a group aimed at the development of a roadmap for the deployment of the smart grid to 2050 (SEAI, 2011a).

On the policy front, the report, although acknowledging the support given by CER to date, points to the need for greater regulatory initiative:

“Nevertheless, it is the regulators primary objective in Ireland as elsewhere to protect the short term interests of the consumer and prevent any unnecessary price increases. Regulators may therefore have a tendency to take a narrow or short term view when evaluating cost efficiency, penalising extra expenditure on R&D or smart grid pilot projects and encouraging business-as-usual expenditure instead.  To ensure investments in smart grids and other low-carbon technologies necessary to underpin the transition to a low-carbon economy, the regulatory authorities might be required to focus more strongly on long-term requirements of decarbonisation, and on providing a fair rate of return on the necessary investment.”

The full report is available at www.environ.ie, while the background papers are at www.nesc.ie.