Ireland’s 2 million homes and small businesses are to be asked to avoid peak-time use of electricity in order to avoid blackouts this winter.
While Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the Government does not anticipate energy shortages this winter, drastic steps are now being taken as the network struggles to cope with demand.
The Commission for Energy Regulation (CRU) has said that as well as looking at large energy users, it is also “looking at proposals by network operators to assist in the reduction of peak demand by domestic and small business customers”.
As the Irish Examiner reports, the country had 13 system alerts on the power grid in the past two years, the same number as the entire preceding decade, as a 'perfect storm' of factors is straining the system.
The State’s power grid operator EirGrid has insisted that there was no threat of blackouts as two system alerts — previously called amber alerts — were issued in the past two days, bringing the total to four in the past month alone.
There have now been seven alerts this year, with EirGrid saying this week’s alerts were due to low wind, limited electricity imports, and forced outages at a number of generators causing “tight margins”.
However, the CRU has warned that energy margins will remain tight during winter, and it is continuing to work with key stakeholders to implement additional mitigation measures to further reduce risk during this period.
The CRU said it expects to publish its plan on additional measures aimed at reducing peak demand in the coming weeks, but it wants to impose “peak tariffs” on large industrial consumers, pitching prices at levels so high they would have no option but to cut demand on the coldest winter nights.