National grid operator highlights flaws in Ireland's electricity generation

EirGrid said the system as it stands is unfit for purpose
National grid operator highlights flaws in Ireland's electricity generation

The operator of the national grid has warned the State’s capacity to generate electricity suffers from systemic flaws.

The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has published a report into how energy capacity is being delivered across the State and what steps need to be taken to boost supply.

Among the key aspects of the report, commissioned by the CRU and conducted by EY, are proposals that operators seeking to build power plants should have planning permission in place before they qualify for auctions at which new contracts are awarded, rather than being able to bid and subsequently seek planning.

The report also calls for State-funded incentives for building power plants to be enhanced.

However, in response, EirGrid said the system as it stands is unfit for purpose. It pointed out that as much as 650MW of capacity that should be coming on stream following deals agreed in 2018 had “failed to deliver capacity to the electricity grid”.

It said it had “highlighted to the CRU the failure of the market mechanism to deliver”, adding that it had “asked the regulator to urgently amend the mechanism to ensure security of supply”.

Eirgrid said it had decided not to engage further after encountering what it said were “fundamental aspects of the report with which we disagree”.

The grid operator said it would give the CRU report “careful consideration and respond in due course”.

In response to the EirGrid statement, a spokesman for the CRU told The Irish Times that the “current market design was the subject of a State aid clearance process by the European Commission and is in line with EU requirements for such capacity mechanisms.”

The procurement of energy is the latest in a series of issues that have arisen between the State’s electricity grid operator and the regulator, amid increasing fears of blackouts.

On Monday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Government will do “everything it can” to ensure energy security in Ireland.

The Government has commissioned an independent review into electricity supply issues amid concerns of potential blackouts this winter due to demand potentially outstripping supply.

Former senior civil servant Dermot McCarthy has been asked to conduct the review.

Earlier this month EirGrid issued an amber alert due to a “generation shortfall in Ireland”.

The alert is issued when there is a threat to the supply of electricity.

The Taoiseach said the Government will be holding further meetings with CRU and EirGrid about the procurement of energy for this winter and next winter.

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