Industry News
November 16, 2022Wholesale Electricity and Gas Policy Division,Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications29-31 Adelaide RoadDublin 2D02 X28528 October 2022Department of the Environment, Climate and CommunicationsBy email: energyconsultation@decc.gov.ieResponse to consultation onReview of the Security of Energy Supply of Ireland’s Electricity and Natural Gas Systems Dear Sir/Madam,MaresConnect Limited (MCL) welcomes the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications’ (DECC) consultation on Review of the Security of Energy Supply of Ireland’s Electricity and Natural Gas Systems 19 September 2022 (the Consultation).MaresConnect is a proposed 750MW electricity interconnector linking the power markets of Ireland (IE) and Great Britain (GB). MaresConnect has a GB interconnector licence and a GB grid connection agreement for 750MW interconnector at National Grid’s Bodelwyddan station in North Wales.MaresConnect is a near-term interconnector targeting commencement of operations in 2028 and is being developed by a highly experienced management team who have worked on 7 interconnector projects, including four connecting (or proposed) to Ireland. The Project is funded by a major shareholder, Foresight Energy Infrastructure Partners (FEIP), with funding committed through the development phase.We set out below our response to selected questions set out in the consultation.Please do not hesitate to get in touch should you wish to discuss any aspect of this response.Yours sincerely,Simon LudlamCEOMares Connect Limited Click here to read response [...] Read more...
November 4, 2022Wind farms across Britain have set a second power generation record within the space of a week, producing 20,896MW of electricity on Wednesday 2 November.National Grid ESO said the milestone was achieved during a 30-minute period around noon when wind farms accounted for 53% of Britain’s electricity.On the same day, low-carbon sources – wind, solar, nuclear, hydro and storage – provided 70% of the country’s electricity.It comes just seven days after a previous record was set by onshore and offshore wind projects, when 19,936MW was generated over a half-hour period.RenewableUK chief executive Dan McGrail said: “Generating more than 20GW of electricity for the first time represents a new milestone for wind energy in Britain.“The fact that we’ve smashed the last record within the space of a week shows that wind is consistently generating vast amounts of clean power and becoming the backbone of our modern energy system.“This benefits hard-pressed billpayers too, because wind has become the UK’s cheapest source of new power.“It’s also strengthening our energy security at a time when generating our own electricity from home-grown sources has become vitally important.”The trade group noted that although the latest statistics represent a new electricity generation record, the highest percentage of electricity generated from wind in a half-hour period is 64% on 29 January this year. Original article – https://renews.biz/81580/british-wind-farms-set-another-new-generation-record/ [...] Read more...
November 1, 2022By 2037 there could be upwards of 5,000 jobs supported directly by the offshore wind sector located off the western seaboard, a new report has found. The sector could generate €400 million in gross value added (GVA) annually to the Atlantic region economy, according to the research commissioned by regional stakeholders and funded by Enterprise Ireland, local authorities and the Western Development Commission.The report confirms the “unprecedented opportunity” of offshore wind along the western seaboard embracing the northwest, west, and midwest regions over the next 20 years.The Government has set a target of 7 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030 with a view to achieving 30GW in the 2030s – with a significant portion of associated renewable power and green hydrogen being exported to Europe. This includes fixed turbine wind farms in the Irish Sea, but increasingly using offshore floating technology off the west coast.As offshore becomes more dominant over onshore, the impact on indirect employment will be equally transformative, the report concludes. The figures projected “are a direct correlation to wind farm delivery and the indirect benefits could be many times greater”.The report identifies positive downstream economic, environmental and societal impacts that would be likely following the direct impact of jobs and supply chain delivery.‘Huge opportunity’Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Dara Calleary said the report provided a basis for the Atlantic region to progress in developing its wind energy industry by “identifying the huge opportunity for the region in the onshore to offshore wind energy sector and the potential for thousands of high-quality, sustainable jobs that it brings”.He looked forward to “working with all of the regional stakeholders, public and private, in striving to deliver on the promise of this study”.The report by Dublin Offshore Consultants and Bigger Economics considers buildout scenarios across the region – from Donegal to Limerick – with projections under steady, rapid and aspirational outcomes. The offshore wind sector will overtake onshore in the Atlantic region within 15 years, it finds.The longitudinal economic model estimates the combined GVA of onshore and offshore wind in the region will be €2.85 billion up to 2037 in the rapid buildout scenario. In the steady scenario it is reduced to €1.86 billion and for the aspirational scenario it is €4.21 billion to 2037. By 2037 it is expected that in the Atlantic region the wind sector will annually generate €220 million GVA in the rapid buildout scenario; €170 million GVA in the steady scenario and €400 million GVA in the aspirational scenario.The report underlines Irish wind energy resources are among the best globally: “Wind projects onshore can avail of wind speeds of 7 metres/second (m/s), which are high in global terms. The wind speeds available off the Atlantic coastline, are far higher at up to 11m/s within Irish territorial waters (12 nautical mile limit) and up to 15m/s in the Irish exclusive economic zone.”It calls for delivery of “a regionally inclusive national energy strategy to co-ordinate route to market, grid upgrades along the Atlantic region and developing new courses and centres targeting the wind energy sector, with a particular emphasis on floating offshore wind skills and expertise not currently offered by Irish educational bodies”.Clear signals from the Government are critical to deliver the full potential of the wind energy industry in Ireland and the Atlantic region, it underlines.‘Clear signals’“Specific targets for installed capacity of offshore wind post-2030 are required. Clear signals on a pipeline of wind energy activity in the Atlantic region will enable ports to finance and commence upgrades, project developers to develop construction schedules, and educational bodies and training providers to tailor courses and ramp up activity to support industry needs,” it adds.Almost 40GW of offshore wind projects are in development in the State, of which more than 10GW are in the Atlantic region. In early 2022, the first six commercial scale offshore wind projects comprising nearly 4GW were given “relevant projects” status to allow fast-track development. Five of these are in the Irish Sea, while the 400MW Sceirde Rocks project, is proposed for off the Galway coast.The majority of remaining projects in the Atlantic region are focused on access to the Moneypoint and nearby Tarbert grid connections, anticipated to become available from 2025. These are located off the Clare and north Kerry coasts and intend to use floating platforms.With the exception of those using Moneypoint and Tarbert grid connections, all other future installed floating offshore wind capacity will require upgrades in grid connection availability, battery storage, or alternative routes to market such as production of green hydrogen, it notes.When assessing skills needed for the industry to grow, it identifies engineering, applied sciences, logistics, digital and supply chain management as essential. Original article – https://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/2022/10/28/offshore-wind-in-atlantic-region-could-support-5000-jobs-by-2037-report/ [...] Read more...
October 14, 2022PRAGUE – European Union (EU) energy ministers held an informal meeting here on Wednesday to discuss solutions for high gas prices, preparing for the energy situation this winter, and a possible revision of the electricity market.Discussions aimed to define the European Commission’s legislative proposals on joint gas purchases and possible price capping, according to a statement issued by the Czech Presidency of the EU after the meeting.“In the first part of the meeting, we focused on the issue of high gas prices and the search for a quick (…) effective solution. The discussion on this topic is not easy, each country has different conditions, different rules, different interests, but is crucial because we must mitigate the economic impacts,” Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Jozef Sikela said.“I expect the European Commission will take this discussion into account during the preparation of the legislative proposal on this issue. It should be published by the Commission next week, and I believe that we will be able to discuss it at the formal Energy Council on Oct 25 in Luxembourg,” he said.“Afterwards, we will most likely call another extraordinary meeting of energy ministers to seek approval,” he added.The main elements of the proposal should include a functional platform for joint gas purchases, increasing the transparency of the Title Transfer Facility (TTF) price index, and strengthening its resilience to speculative behavior.Joint purchases would help the entire 27-member bloc to achieve more favorable bulk prices for natural gas, which would help with soaring costs. This would especially help smaller countries gain market leverage, and could come into effect mid-way through next year.The ministers also discussed the energy preparedness of individual countries, the entire EU bloc and neighboring regions ahead of the winter season, as well as the functioning of the European electricity market.“We also discussed the way the market should be set up so that it can better respond to the current crisis situation and at the same time be prepared for the future energy mix. It will be low-carbon and more based on nuclear and renewable energy sources,” Sikela said.Inflation in the eurozone rose by 10 percent in September, a new record high since the launch of the single currency in 1999. Meanwhile, inflation in the Czech Republic in September rose by 18 percent year-on-year, primarily because of energy prices. Original article – https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/eu-ministers-discuss-joint-gas-purchases-electricity-market-reform-122101300095_1.html [...] Read more...
September 27, 2022Higher energy bills mean councils across Wales have £200m less to spend in 2023/24, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said.There are fears this could affect jobs and resources in areas like schools and homeless services.The UK government has said it will cut councils’ energy costs for six months.Bills for UK businesses – including councils – will be cut by about half their expected level this winter, with wholesale gas and electricity prices fixed for six months from 1 October, shielding them from crippling cost increases.But the WLGA said the scale of the challenge councils faced to keep services going “cannot be overstated”.Martin James, a volunteer trustee at the community-owned Narberth swimming pool, Pembrokeshire, said recent cost rises mean they were only just keeping their heads above water, and they feared what would happen if prices rose again.“The energy costs as with everyone have rocketed recently, chlorine costs have gone up considerably, it’s really tough, so we’re quite concerned about the future of the pool, and whether we’ll be able to stay open,” he said.“There are loads of children coming over from local schools, we have about 400 people in our learn to swim scheme, and it would be such a shame for that to happen,” he said.But it is not just community-owned services that are facing challenges. According to the council, schools and leisure centres are their biggest energy users.Tough times aheadLike many councils, Pembrokeshire has a fixed energy contract until April 2023, so the concern for them is what happens after that.The council fears bills could double when those contracts come up for retendering.At Milford Haven Community School, acting headteacher Nick Dyer is preparing for tough times ahead.“I think we are gearing ourselves up for a ‘gathering storm’, maybe it’s not raining yet, but we’re expecting it to,” he said.While the school had prepared for the rise in energy costs, he said the impact on next year’s budget could be considerable on resources and jobs.“What we don’t know is what’ll happen after April 2023, but already we’re looking at it, and thinking it could be 100% or more increase in costs, and of course we don’t know how that is going to be funded,” said Mr Dyer.“If schools aren’t funded for that we will really struggle, we’ll have nowhere else to go, and you’re starting to talk then about salaries, you’re talking about resources for children and other areas we can take from.”‘When costs go up, stress goes up’About three-quarters of the children attending the school live in poverty, with resources focused on providing extra support for struggling families. “What we do know is that when costs go up, stress goes up for families, and when stress goes up in families, the need for school to provide support, to look out for those children grows,” he said.“That means that schools are likely to be looking at how else we support these families, do we need to push our resource and our staffing towards that?”The school is putting in place more support for children, with more staff needed to help deal with social services. It is also setting up a school uniform hub to help families cut costs, but budget pressures could mean that next year it will have to do more with less money.The same is true for the local authority as a whole, deputy leader of Pembrokeshire council Paul Miller said: “When times get rougher, demand goes up, not down.”“People rely on local authority services more, the tougher it is out there in the general economy.”He added that social services, homelessness services, family services and schools all see a rise in demand in a difficult economic climate.“It’s pretty serious, lots of colleagues are talking about this being worse than the austerity years,” he said.“We’re talking about £5m in-year pressures, that’s costs that have come since we set the budget in March of this year, and next year, admittedly it’s projections, but we’re looking at about £18.5m deficit.”Local authorities have a statutory requirement to balance their books, and so deficits inevitably mean cuts to services, and according to Mr Miller, job losses cannot be ruled out.“Projections change rapidly in an environment like this, but a significant proportion of our costs are staff costs, and so we’re not in a position where we can rule [job losses] out, I think what I’d say is, it looks really tough going into next year’s budget setting process.”The WLGA said concerns like these were not isolated to Pembrokeshire, and Welsh councils face a £200m shortfall in their budgets next year.This week, the UK government announced an Energy Bill Relief Scheme that would cut energy bills for councils, as well as business for six months.Councillor Anthony Hunt, finance spokesperson for WLGA, said councils faced up to a 285% hike in energy costs, and more support was needed.“Aside from surging energy bills, pay costs and rocketing inflation are forcing councils to look again at their spending plans just to meet their legal duty to balance budgets,” he said.He called on the UK government to provide more adequate support to help councils help communities.A UK government spokesperson said: “We understand the pressure businesses, charities, and public sector organisations are facing with their energy bills, which is why the UK government is taking immediate action to ensure customers are protected over the winter period.“We will publish a review into the operation of the scheme in the months to inform decision on future support after March 2023.” Original article – https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-63010305 [...] Read more...
September 27, 2022The Powering Up Dublin Community and Business Forums bring together people and organisations from across the project area so that stakeholder, community and local businesses’ views can be discussed, understood and properly considered throughout the lifecycle of the project.This project will see up to 50km of cables being installed, with some cables replacing existing ones and some new cables being installed. These upgrades are necessary to help secure Dublin’s electricity future and bring more renewable energy onto the grid.To keep communities and businesses informed about the project, EirGrid is setting up a business forum and community forum, and these information events will provide more detail of the forums’ roles and how people can become a member.The information event for the business forum takes place on Tuesday, September 27 at Smock Alley Theatre, Temple Bar, from 9am to 10.30am. The community forum event takes place at the same location on September 27, from 7pm to 8.30pm.Speaking about the information events, Sinead Dooley, Head of Public Engagement with EirGrid said: “We understand the importance of people’s feedback when developing projects. Communities and businesses know their area and are best placed to provide feedback. We hope to work collaboratively with them so that this essential project is delivered in a timely fashion, with as little impact to businesses and communities as possible.”“These information events will provide greater detail on the role forums will play; from providing guidance on local needs and priorities, to making sure a local voice is heard and feedback is given to the project team,” added Dooley.To register for either event, visit www.eirgrid.ie/Dublin [...] Read more...
August 22, 2022The UK is the latest country preparing to implement emergency measures this winter as soaring gas and electricity prices fuel an energy crisis in Europe.The British government is prepared to trigger emergency measures in January to conserve gas as electricity imports fall, according to Bloomberg. A number of countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark have drawn up plans to deal with energy shortages over the winter, including switching to coal-fired power and even forms of rationing.UK measures could include organized power cuts affecting both businesses and households to avoid potential gas shortfalls, Bloomberg said.UK natural gas prices have surged 130% this year, compared with a rise of 200% in benchmark European prices so. Benchmark power prices on the continent have hit record highs, rising by almost 300% since the start of 2022.“Rationing can’t be ruled out in the colder months. This will impact everyone, but especially energy intensive industries like car makers, chemical companies and cryptocurrency mining,” Simon Tucker, global head of energy, utilities and resources at Infosys Consulting, said.“Fundamentally, there is huge demand for natural gas and especially liquid natural gas (LNG) in Europe. Even with a large increase in shipments of LNG from the Middle East and North America, supply is still limited and particularly cold spells in winter pose a serious risk,” he added.Gas and power costs are contributing to a cost-of-living crisis across Europe, with key benchmark prices soaring since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Red-hot inflation is forcing central banks to raise interest rates, delivering an additional blow to cash-strapped households everywhere.Part of the increase is down to a drop in flows of energy from Russia, which has traditionally been Europe’s go-to provider, supplying 40% of the region’s natural gas. EU sanctions on Moscow over the war in Ukraine have resulted in Russian exports of gas slowing to a trickle through at least one major pipeline. Britain produces natural gas itself and gets additional supply in the form of super-cooled fuel that arrives on tankers. It often has a glut of unused gas because of a shortage of storage options, but its capacity to export any excess to the rest of Europe is constrained by the size of the pipelines that connect it to the mainland. Even so, it still imports much of its electricity from its neighbours in Norway and France. The entire continent is now scrambling to deal with an unprecedented rupture in energy security.Norway, a major exporter of electricity and natural gas, has warned it may ration power exports to the rest of the continent as it grapples with a lack of rainfall that has depleted the reservoirs it relies on for hydropower. Adding to the squeeze on available supplies is France – ordinarily a net exporter of power thanks to its fleet of nuclear power stations. But ageing infrastructure and overdue maintenance mean Europe’s second largest economy is now having to vie for electricity on the open market, as a large proportion of its nuclear facilities are offline.Even power stations in Europe’s manufacturing heartland of Germany are struggling to source enough fuel. A heatwave and record low rainfall across the region have driven water levels on the river Rhine to historic lows, which means the barges that would normally carry anything from coal to refined petroleum products are unable to pass through with anything close to full loads. Original article – https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/commodities/europe-energy-crisis-gas-prices-organized-blackouts-power-cuts-uk-2022-8 [...] Read more...
July 1, 2022Subsea interconnectors are a very discreet sector, it entails decade-long developments…but are developing fast and have become critical to increasing renewables penetration and enhancing energy security. They were originally developed around the North Sea and the Baltic Sea by TSO (Transmission System Operators) but have now caught the interest of large private infrastructure investors. Those HVDC cables, running for hundreds of kms under the seabed, can carry (in both ways) power equivalent to a nuclear plant.How are those projects being developed? What are their revenue models? What are the technical options? What does the future look like as pharaonic projects liking continents are now being considered? Gerard and Laurent provide an in-depth view into the beauty and sophistication of those projects with the “captain Nemo” of interconnectors, Simon Ludlam.Simon, a former investment banker, is the founding partner of Etchea Energy which currently provides the Management Team to the Irish MaresConnect interconnector project. Etchea Energy previously provided Project Director services to the €500m Greenlink Interconnector where it was successful in introducing Cap & Floor regulation in Ireland, securing PCI status for the project, and raising equity finance for the construction phase. Prior to Greenlink, Simon originated and led the development of the €600m ElecLink interconnector project through the Channel Tunnel. Original podcast can be found here  [...] Read more...
June 7, 2022This was the most power ever generated by wind in the month of May and over the first five months of 2022 wind has provided 37 per cent of Ireland’s electricity.Prices on the wholesale electricity market fell significantly to an average of €143.27 but market analysts believe this was likely a temporary fall due to a combination of an over supply of gas in Britain, lower than expected demand and better renewable energy performance.Noel Cunniffe, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland, said: “Irish wind farms have delivered enormous amounts of clean energy over the first five months of the year, cutting our carbon emissions and helping to insulate Irish consumers from our dependence on expensive imported gas.“We expect to see new wind farms connected before the end of 2022 and with solar farms connecting to the grid this year for the first time too, the two technologies will increasingly be able to work together to push fossil fuels off the Irish electricity system.”Planning delaysHowever, the organisation warned that delays in the planning system are slowing the rate of connection of new wind farms. Although An Bord Pleanála has a statutory timeframe to decide applications from wind energy projects in 18 weeks the average time for a decision is over a year.Noel Cunniffe said: “Our planning system must be urgently reformed and properly resourced to ensure that the renewable energy projects needed to cut our carbon emissions and drive down electricity bills can get built as quickly as possible.”The results of this report are based on EirGrid’s SCADA data compiled by MullanGrid and on market data provided by ElectroRoute. This is the fifth in what will be a continuing series of monthly reports from Wind Energy Ireland. This series will play an important role in progressing the development of wind energy as an energy source in Ireland. Original article – https://windenergyireland.com/latest-news/6701-wind-energy-monthly-report-34-of-ireland-s-power-provided-in-may [...] Read more...
April 5, 2022The plan will aim to boost UK energy production, including from renewable sources, in a bid to move away from Russian oil and gas.Boris Johnson has been holding talks with figures from the nuclear, renewables, and North Sea oil and gas sectors ahead of the launch.Ministers are also under pressure over soaring energy bills facing consumers, amid rising gas prices.So what can we expect the strategy to say?NuclearSenior government sources have told the BBC the prime minister wants to make “two big bets” on nuclear and offshore wind in the strategy. He has previously indicated he’d like to see 25% of the UK’s energy generated by nuclear by 2050, though the Treasury has raised concerns about the costs of targets like this falling outside of the government’s current spending review period.At the moment, the UK has six plants that can supply about 20% of UK electricity demand, with 15% generated in 2020. Most of their reactors are due to cease operating and be shut down before 2030.Funding the construction of new plants has proved challenging in recent years, and complications over costs were a factor behind the energy strategy being delayed.Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has confirmed ministers will set up a new body to oversee the delivery of new nuclear plants.The government also recently acquired new powers to finance nuclear projects by allowing developers to add costs to customers’ bills during construction.Ministers argue this will prove less expensive for energy users than current funding models, where these costs can only be added after a station starts generating electricity. The government also plans to take a 20% stake in a £20bn project to build a new plant at Sizewell C in Suffolk.Wylfa, a decommissioned nuclear power plant on the island of Anglesey in north Wales, is among half a dozen sites already being considered for new stations.Welsh Secretary Simon Hart is set to visit the United States this week for talks with US firms Bechtel and Westinghouse about reviving plans for a new site, following the withdrawal of Japanese company Hitachi two years ago.WindMr Johnson has also expressed his desire for a “colossal” offshore wind farm to industry leaders.A senior source told the BBC he is looking for a “Kate-Bingham like” figure to lead the expansion of offshore wind – in a reference to the venture capitalist who led a government taskforce on buying Covid vaccines.The PM is said to have told industry leaders that if the UK “could create a vaccine in a year” then he wished to do the same with a large offshore wind farm. There have also been discussions about boosting onshore wind farms, which have faced greater hurdles for approval since planning laws in England were tightened in 2015.A senior government source has also told the BBC Mr Johnson was “horrified” when he was told that onshore wind turbines could take a “day” to put up, but “10 years” to approve in England.Some Tory activists have opposed their impact on the landscape, despite polls suggesting high public support for them, and cabinet ministers are split over whether planning laws in England should be relaxed.Energy bill help for people near turbines consideredCabinet split over onshore wind expansion planThe business secretary favours a relaxation, but has said any expansion of onshore wind would need community consent and benefits.Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said he did not favour “a vast increase” in onshore wind farms, calling them an “eyesore for communities”.But it’s possible the strategy may commit to just reviewing the planning laws – even if no decisions have yet been made.The BBC has been told incentives – such as cheaper energy bills – are being considered for people who live near new onshore wind farms, and these could be introduced whether planning laws in England are relaxed or not.That could mean those benefits are felt more acutely in Scotland and Wales, where planning rules are already less stringent.Oil and GasThe strategy is also likely to touch on increasing domestic production of gas and oil in the North Sea.However, ministers say they don’t want to burn more gas, but instead produce more of it domestically while they transition to renewables.Ministers are likely to “keep the door open” to the controversial practice of fracking – extracting shale gas from the ground – but a government ban on it remains in place.Some Tory MPs have pushed for the government to lift the ban, though it’s understood they have no plans to unless science changes and deems it safe.SolarSolar power is also expected to be part of the strategy – with incentives also being considered for people who live near new large solar farms constructed in England.Supporters say a new generation of farms say they could provide a source of renewable energy to power hundreds of thousands of homes.But plans for new farms have faced local resistance, with a number of Conservative MPs also voicing their opposition. Original article – https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-60982346 [...] Read more...
March 28, 2022Offshore wind can deliver “80 gigawatts” of power, almost ten times the size of Ireland’s grid of “5-and-a-half gigawatts,” CEO of Shannon Foynes Port Company Pat Keating declared.Mr Keating was addressing the Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action.Committee Chair Brian Leddin, Green Party TD, noted that that the war in Ukraine has pushed to centre-stage the committee’s work on coastal renewable energy.“What we have is a huge natural energy resource in this country, that is obviously too big for local demand,” Mr Keating said.He pointed out that the 80 gigawatts is a known quantity, “a definitive resource”, unlike oil and gas, which depend on exploration to establish whether reserves actually exist.The Government’s target of five gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 “is based on local demand,” he said, adding it is “inconsistent with where the sector is going”.Those five gigawatts are to be generated off the east and south coasts, where shallow water suits wind farms built on a solid foundation, or fixed platform.However, the committee heard that the deep waters off Ireland’s west coast are suited to floating platforms.Mr Keating said that investors see those floating facilities as being more productive and efficient, also noting that they are “out of sight” from land.But he said investors looking at Ireland need a signal from the Government that it supports floating platforms.Without this, Mr Keating warned that “what is widely renowned as the best resource in Europe – if not the world – becomes un-investable”.He pointed to Ireland’s chief competitor in wind energy.“We can learn a lot from how the UK has approached this”, he said.Ireland is at least “five or six years” behind them, Mr Keating said, adding that companies now making a “once in a 25-year investment decision” are choosing places like Scotland.Those investments are funding the establishment of a supply chain outside of Ireland, which raises the danger that “what we end up with is a commodity resource, rather than a value-add resource,” Mr Keating added.Scotland has gone “straight to floating [platforms]”, rather than focusing on fixed platformed wind farms, he said.And its wind energy agency, ScotWind, has already held an auction for offshore licences, with most going to floating platforms.It secured £700 million (€841 million) for sixteen offshore wind projects, Mr Keating said.These are the types of revenue Ireland could be raising, he told the committee.“The market is more than willing”, he said, but warned that in Ireland “there is no process to engage the market”. Original article – https://www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2022/0322/1287819-offshore-energy/ [...] Read more...
January 22, 2022ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION BY data centres has more than doubled since 2015, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.Between 2015 and 2020, data centres’ consumption of electricity in Ireland increased by 144%.Additionally, the proportion of Ireland’s total metered electricity used by data centres more than doubled between 2015 and 2020, rising from 5% to 11% – an increase of 1,783 Gigawatt hours.For the first time, the CSO has published a report on electricity consumption by data centres.Amid concerns about Ireland’s energy supply and efforts to reduce emissions, the impact of large-energy users like data centres on the grid has come under scrutiny.Late last year, Ireland’s energy regulator decided against a moratorium on new data centres connecting to the national grid, but said it reserved the right to implement one if it deems it a necessary move to “protect security of supply”.The CSO report released today shows that in the first quarter of 2015, data centres consumed 290 Gigawatt hours of metered electricity.In the last three months of 2020, they consumed 849 Gigawatt hours – a 193% increase, or almost triple.  Data centres’ share of metered electricity in 2020 was almost as large as consumption by rural homes, which accounted for 12%. Urban dwellings used 22%.Overall, consumption in Ireland rose by 10%, or 2,546 Gigawatt hours, between 2015 and 2020.Statistician in the CSO’s Environment and Climate Division Niamh Shanahan said: “The increase in consumption was driven by a combination of existing data centres using more electricity and new data centres being added to the grid.”“This is the first time the CSO has published figures on electricity consumption by data centres. The report shows the total metered electricity consumption by data centres by quarter for the period 2015 to 2020,” she said.Shanahan said that “data centre consumption increased from 290 Gigawatt hours in January to March 2015 to 849 GWh in October to December 2020″ and that the data “shows a steady increase from quarter to quarter”.‘Unlike anything Ireland has seen in 100 years’In October, an Oireachtas Committee heard that it “would not be prudent” to expand electricity demand with further large energy users.DCU Professor Barry McMullin told the Committee that it will be essential to “minimise society-wide energy demand for at least the next two decades” to significantly reduce fossil fuel use and emissions. He said it “would not be prudent to continue expanding our electricity demand with further large users such as data centres”.Aoife MacEvilly, Chairperson of the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, said that “on the topic of data centres, electricity demand growth from this sector is unlike anything Ireland has seen in the past 100 years”.“At present, this demand is connecting to the grid more quickly and easily than it has proven possible to deliver the supporting transmission and generation infrastructure.” In 2020, an EirGrid report outlined that data centres and other large energy users could account for 27% of Ireland’s energy consumption by 2030. Original article – https://www.thejournal.ie/data-centres-electricity-use-5659789-Jan2022/ [...] Read more...
December 16, 2021Increasing demand and the retirement of older generating stations will likely create electricity supply challenges for the island of Ireland in the coming years, according to this year’s generation capacity statement (GCS). The GCS is published annually by EirGrid and examines the likely balance between electricity demand and supply in the period up to 2030. “The document considers the balance between supply and demand for Ireland and Northern Ireland between 2021 and 2030 and reports on our work as TSOs,” says David McGowan, the future networks team lead with SONI, Northern Ireland’s electricity transmission system operator (TSO) and part of EirGrid Group. “We consulted widely with industry and other stakeholders in preparing the statement.”The report finds that despite a short-term reduction in electricity use due to Covid-19, demand in Ireland is on the rise and, long term, will increase significantly due to the expected continued growth of large energy users.“That strong level of demand growth is a good sign,” says McGowan. “It reflects anticipated economic, employment and population growth. Also, the Irish government’s Climate Action Plan with its targets for electric vehicles and heat pumps, along with increased public demand for the electrification of other services and activities, will drive overall electricity demand upwards over the period.”Plants retiringThat demand growth will be accompanied by a reduction in conventional generating capacity. “The report predicts that over the course of the next five years around 1,650 megawatts [MW] of generation will retire in Ireland, with up to a further 600MW retiring in Northern Ireland,” he adds.The issue for the two TSOs is how to bridge that gap between rising demand and falling generation capacity. EirGrid and SONI do not generate any power themselves, their role is to manage the grids which transmit it from the generators to the users.“Our job is to understand where the surpluses and deficits will arise,” McGowan explains. “The report sends out a signal to the market in relation to what will be required to meet capacity needs between now and 2030.”And the clear message is that new conventional generating capacity will be needed. While most of the increased demand will be met from wind and solar energy as the power system is reshaped to meet the Government target of at least 70 per cent of electricity generation coming from renewable sources by 2030, there will still be a shortfall.“It is clear from the report that new, cleaner gas-fired generation plant is required now to address the issue, especially for when wind and solar generation is low,” says McGowan. “Appropriate volumes of dispatchable flexible gas generation are critical to support the transition to a low-carbon power system into the next decade, as we move to 70 per cent renewables by 2030 and, ultimately, a zero-carbon power system.”The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) concurs, and in its security of supply information note published in September indicated that it has developed a programme of work actions to address the situation. These actions include the delivery of more than 2,000MW of enduring flexible gas-fired generation capacity by 2030; the procurement of up to 300MW of temporary emergency; and extending the operation, on a temporary basis, of older generators to delay the loss of up to 1,200MW of existing capacity.Demand-side responseOther actions led by EirGrid will also play a role. These include demand-side response and the Celtic interconnector with France. In demand-side response large energy users can reduce their demand when the system is under stress. “They can have their own generation facilities to provide dispatchable power or they can switch demand to another jurisdiction. There is an opportunity for demand-side participants to sell into the market.”The data-centre sector cannot be ignored in all of this, and EirGrid estimates that it will grow to represent 23 per cent of demand in Ireland by 2030. “EirGrid recognises the important role that data centres will play in the future energy system and look forward to working with the industry and the CRU to implement the new policy in relation to the sector,” says McGowan.That new policy sets out criteria that EirGrid and ESB Networks are required to consider in assessing data-centre connection applications. The criteria relate to the location of the data centre applicant with respect to whether they are within a constrained or unconstrained region of the electricity system; the ability of the applicant to bring onsite dispatchable generation or storage capacity equivalent to or greater than their demand; and their ability to provide flexibility in their demand by reducing consumption when requested to do so.“The aim of the GCS is to create awareness of the situation and we are working with all stakeholders to create solutions to the problem. We have set up an alarm, but we hope it doesn’t go off.” Original Article – https://www.irishtimes.com/sponsored/innovation-partner-profiles/eirgrid-planning-for-decade-of-growth-in-electricity-demand-1.4755127 [...] Read more...
December 7, 2021The challenges facing Ireland’s energy supply can be summarised in four key points: (1) lower than expected availability from some existing power stations; (2) anticipated new power stations not being developed as planned; (3) expected growth in electricity demand, including from data centres; and (4) expected closure of some power stations in the coming years that make up almost 25% of conventional electricity generation capacity.Meanwhile, EirGrid noted in its Winter Outlook for 2021 that it expected Ireland’s electricity system to enter a state of “alert” at times over the coming Winter, which is most likely to occur at periods of low wind and low interconnector imports. Ireland currently faces elevated risk to its system entering an “emergency state” due to insufficient generation to meet demand, at least in contrast to previous winters. Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan has acknowledged the extent of the risks, and has acknowledged the “real issues with data centres”, noting that if “increased demand […] were to continue unabated, it would present real difficulties”. While Ireland’s Commission for Regulation of Utilities has decided against a moratorium on data centres, it too has acknowledged the need for rigorous assessment of applications from new data centres to gain access to the grid. Indeed, concerns regarding energy security stem beyond the energy usage of data centres.In response to energy concerns, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications have commissioned a long-term review of the Security of Energy Supply (Electricity & Natural Gas) that will focus from now to 2030 in the context of ensuring sustainable pathways to meet net zero targets by 2050, while considering options to address longer-term risks such as increased dependence on imported natural gas from Scotland’s Moffat terminal. While this review will be conducted with a long-term perspective, Minister Ryan last week published his Department’s new Government Policy Statement to Guarantee Security of Electricity Supply throughout Ireland. As per this new Policy Statement, the Government has committed to:1.     Supporting and permitting the development of new conventional generation (including gas-fired and gasoil/distillate-fired generation) given its being a national priority.a.     It is envisioned that this will not only ensure energy supply security but will also facilitate meeting renewable energy targets by 2030.2.     Retaining existing conventional electricity generation capacity until new conventional electricity generation capacity is developed.3.     Considering the connection of large energy users, such as data centres for example, on the basis of their potential impact on energy supply security and wider needs to decarbonise the electricity grid.4.     Noting the importance for additional electricity transmission and distribution grid infrastructure, electricity interconnection, and electricity storage to be permitted and developed with a view to supporting the growth of renewable energy.Speaking in relation to the Policy Statement, Minister Ryan stated: “secure supplies of electricity are vital for our economy and society as we increase the share of renewable electricity to up to 80% by 2030. They are also vital to attract new investment into Ireland and for people and businesses to have complete confidence when purchasing electric vehicles and installing heat pumps. This new gas-fired capacity will be flexible enough to balance our national grid as we expand solar energy and onshore and offshore wind, and will be more efficient than our older oil and coal-fired power stations”.It remains to be seen of course if the Government’s direction as outlined in this Policy Statement will allow for a seamless dual-track approach to securing Ireland’s energy supply while simultaneously helping Ireland meet its ambitious targets pertaining to reducing Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 51% by 2030, and to net zero by 2050. It is, however, symptomatic of what will be a bumpy journey as part of an overall energy transition and attempt to fight climate change. Original Article – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/irelands-energy-security-concerns-government-responds- [...] Read more...
November 23, 2021With the conclusion of Cop26 in Glasgow, focus switches to how countries can quickly start delivering on commitments to reduce emissions over the coming decade.A report published earlier this year by a team of energy researchers at University College Cork highlights how Ireland’s ongoing energy transformation – which is necessary to meet our decarbonisation requirements for 2050 – will predominantly involve a massive increase in the development of wind power.The report, Our Climate Neutral Future – Zero by 50, highlights wind energy as Ireland’s most abundant and easily tapped resource, with wind power supply accounting for up to five times that of solar by 2050.But the transition won’t be easy, facing issues such as the intermittent nature of wind and solar power, which are weather dependent, and therefore requiring the need for other energy sources, as well as a large storage capacity, increasingly in the form of battery technology.The publication was led by Dr Paul Deane at the MaREI SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and the Marine, at UCC.How big a part can wind power play in meeting our decarbonisation goals over the coming decades?Today we have about four or five gigawatts of wind power installed in Ireland, and under our projections, looking at population growth, and economic activity – looking at our energy demands in the future – we recognise that this is going to have to grow up to about 20 gigawatts, meaning a fourfold increase by 2050.This will involve a lot of onshore wind power, because it is the cheapest form of renewable energy that we have available to us here in Ireland. There are different estimates which one can make, but generally speaking we think that somewhere between 6GW and 10GW of onshore wind is available on the island. Thereafter the rest will be made up from offshore wind resources, which are a bit more expensive, relatively speaking. Offshore also makes a lot of sense in many regions, along the east coast for example, where it is close to the big demand centres, like Dublin.Do we think that offshore will ever becoming cheaper than onshore?No, I don’t think so. Onshore is currently cheaper per gigawatt and is the cheapest form of renewable energy that we have. No doubt there will be large decreases in the costs of offshore construction and maintenance over time, but onshore is also likely to get cheaper.Onshore construction costs are relatively manageable, and you’re not dealing with the harsh environments out at sea, where you also need a lot of cranes and barges. I’m not saying there is no place for offshore wind energy – we need it and it is a huge part of our future – but it just isn’t as cheap as onshore.How does wind fit in with other energy sources in our decarbonised future?We can’t be sure of the numbers because these are just projections – albeit based on our best future scenario modelling – but it looks like we should be aiming to have around four or five times more wind than solar in the long run.That’s around 4GW or 5GW of solar in the mix, with the 20GW of wind I mentioned earlier. That is a huge amount of solar, especially compared with what we have in place today. Solar panels are now very cheap – costs have tumbled – and they also work well with batteries, which are rapidly becoming cheaper.The challenge with solar, unfortunately, is that we just don’t get enough sunlight in the winter months. When we’re thinking about the future of these power systems, we often think about averages. But actually, power systems must be resilient to extremes, especially when we’re designing our systems of the future, or we are thinking about worst-case scenarios. When modelling these futures we include scenarios where, for example, we have five days with little wind or sun. In order to do that we have to look at things like long-term storage, from future battery technology, for example. It’s these kind of extreme scenarios which matter, even if they are rare, and ultimately provide the framework for designing our energy power system future. How likely is all this to happen in time to meet our national and EU decarbonisation targets by 2030 and beyond?The frustrating thing that we’re seeing at that moment, is that despite all the huge technological improvements, development, and innovation across the wind industry, the planning permission process here is rather fragmented and incoherent.There are all sorts of permits and licences required for the planning and construction of both onshore and offshore wind farms. It’s a real roadblock, which is just not being removed in time to reap the benefits of the rapidly improving technology.It’s a problem for two main reasons. Firstly, it creates extra risk for the developers. These projects are already very capital intensive – they are expensive – and increasing the risk of delay increases costs. Secondly, there can also be a negative impact to our national reputation. All over Europe, developers are looking to build large offshore wind farms, and in the UK and Denmark, for example, they can currently offer a much more attractive legislative process, with lower risk.What can the Government do to make this all happen faster?There has been a growing awareness around this problem for the past five or six years or so, and it’s been a credit to government that they’re at least trying to deal with it. They are now trying to create a unified planning procedure for offshore wind, and developing a new planning entity to govern offshore wind applications, to help deal with the process, to make it smoother.The main idea here is that instead of going to many different departments to get planning for offshore wind farms, we’ll just go to one. So it’s an effort to at least recognise the challenges of the fragmented nature of planning here, and it’s trying to address the issue by putting a more streamlined process in place.We need this to happen so that we can rapidly speed up the planning process and get access to our national wind power abundance sooner rather than later, when it will be too late to meet our decarbonisation requirements. Original article – https://www.irishtimes.com/news/science/wind-energy-why-is-ireland-not-fulfilling-its-potential-1.4729335 [...] Read more...
October 28, 2021The wave of price hikes is not set to abate before next spring, and ministers discussed a set of short-term measures that have been put forward by the European Commission to help consumers and businesses weather the shock.The main reason behind the sharp spike is increased global demand for energy, and gas in particular. According to EU officials, gas prices in Europe have increased by more than 170% since the start of the year. Although most member states agree tax cuts, state aid and other measures put forward by the EU’s executive arm to help households and businesses are beneficial to bring immediate relief, they diverge on the long-term approach.A line has been drawn between the countries calling for a thorough and structural reform of the bloc’s energy market — among them France and Spain — and those who believe the crisis is only temporary and does not require radical market changes.Nine European Union countries, including heavyweight Germany, have joined forces to say they will not support an overhaul of the electricity market.Luxembourg, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia and the Netherlands said transparent and competitive markets are what guarantee better prices for users. They called for the deployment of renewable energy sources and “further interconnection.”Meanwhile, Spain is pushing for changing the way wholesale electricity prices are calculated, while France — which derives about 70% of its electricity from nuclear energy — has called for decoupling electricity and gas prices. The French argue that the influence of gas in setting wholesale electricity prices is disproportionate.“The current functioning of the electricity market in Europe for retail prices has reached its limits,” said Emmanuelle Wargon, the delegate minister to the French minister of ecological transition. “It is absolutely essential that the prices faced by end consumers should reflect the energy mix.”Spain also has proposed setting up a joint program for obtaining gas reserves, but the idea has not gained much support so far. Europe depends heavily on imported gas, mainly from Russia.Poland suggested that Russia has tried to use gas as a political weapon by holding back supplies. The European Commission says Russia’s Gazprom has honored its long-term contracts but has not responded to higher demand for additional supply as it did in previous years.“From our side, we are monitoring what is happening on the gas market,” Kadri Simson, the EU commissioner for energy, said after the meeting. “The commission competition department has begun collecting evidence about market behavior of main gas suppliers in the view of detecting any anti-competitive behavior on the energy market.”In addition, EU countries have asked the commission to look into the bloc’s emissions trading program, which has companies pay for carbon dioxide they emit. The aim is to check whether manipulation of the market could have influenced carbon price increases.Longer term, the commission wants the EU to prepare for a repeat of such price shocks by accelerating investment in renewable energy sources and developing energy storage capacity.Slovenia’s minister for infrastructure, Jernej Vrtovec, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Council, said the crunch is an opportunity to strengthen the transition to renewables and a low-carbon economy.He noted that many member states see nuclear energy as a tool toward further energy independence and climate goals.The energy squeeze has reignited a debate about whether the EU should promote nuclear power projects as a way of becoming more energy independent. The bloc has yet to decide whether nuclear can be included in the so-called taxonomy, a classification system attempting to define what economic activities can qualify for sustainable investment while avoiding “greenwashing.”France recently asked for the inclusion of nuclear power in the framework by the end of the year, leading the charge with nine other EU countries. The group faces strong opposition from Germany and other countries that want nuclear power to be ineligible for green financing.Campaign group Friends of the Earth Europe said after the meeting that ministers showed “a complete lack of urgency” by failing to agree on joint actions. Original article – https://www.registercitizen.com/news/article/EU-ministers-debate-how-to-tackle-rising-energy-16564168.php [...] Read more...
October 17, 2021Ireland already has the highest share of onshore wind in its electricity mix of any country in Europe – 38%. But it wants to get 70% of its electricity from renewables by 2030. To deliver that the Government wants to add a further 4GW of onshore wind capacity by then – and build 5 GW of offshore wind.Today the Emerald Isle only has one small offshore wind farm. This is all set to change. The Government is designing its first offshore wind auction and has just issued a public consultation on it. They plan to run two auctions by 2025 to cover the 5 GW that would then be built by 2030. They will use two-sided Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – good. CfDs are cheaper for Governments and consumers than other support schemes. They act as a revenue stabilisation mechanism and they reduce the financing costs of new wind energy projects.Most of these first 5 GW will be bottom-fixed offshore wind. Beyond 2030 the Government wants Ireland to have a massive 35 GW of offshore wind by 2050, and this would require significant volumes of floating offshore wind too in the deeper waters off the south and west coasts.It’s important that the Irish Government provides clarity to the wind industry as soon as possible on how the first auction will run. And Ireland needs to start investing ASAP too in the infrastructure needed for the development of offshore wind. Ports in particular need immediate investments so that they’ll be ready to convey the equipment out to the wind farms. They need investments in space, heavy-loading quaysides and deep berths for the installation vessels.Ireland is developing a 700MW Celtic Interconnector to France, which will enable it to export some of its wind power. But most of its new offshore wind energy will support the direct electrification of the Irish economy. Offshore wind gives Ireland another opportunity: producing renewable hydrogen and ammonia.WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said: “Ireland’s already Europe’s number one in onshore wind. And it’s got great conditions for offshore wind too. So it’s excellent news that the Irish Government is going to have an auction for its first offshore projects soon. The industry are ready to go, but it’s very important the Government clarifies the rules for the first auction ASAP. And Ireland needs to start investing urgently in its port infrastructure so the ports will be ready for the first projects in a few years time.” Original article – https://www.evwind.es/2021/10/15/irelands-offshore-wind-energy-ambitions-are-starting-to-take-off/82826 [...] Read more...
October 17, 2021HighlightsEnergy Related CO2 emissions 11.5% lower in 2020Most significant emissions reduction since 2009 recession and is largely due to COVID-19 impactsTotal energy consumption down by almost 9%, largely due to reductions in transport useEnergy related CO2 emissions fell by 11.5% (4.3 million tonnes) in 2020, which is the most significant annual reduction since the height of the economic recession in 2009. The primary driver of this reduction was lower consumption of oil products for transport, which is mainly attributable to the change in national and international travel patterns due to public health measures.“The 2020 Energy Balance confirms that we achieved our EU transport target and came very close on the national renewable electricity target. It also confirms that we have not reached our overall 2020 renewable energy target, and that we achieved just half of our renewable heating and cooling target. Now more than ever, it is essential that we accelerate the deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, and increase sustainable energy practices across all sectors”, said William Walsh, SEAI CEO.The Government’s upcoming Climate Action Plan revision will set a new level of ambition to take fossil fuels out of our energy system. It will include an enhanced suite of actions to achieve targets contained within the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021. These actions will ensure we stay within our carbon budgets and achieve our targets of 51% emissions reduction by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.Walsh concluded:“The data released today illustrates the effect of COVID-19 behaviours on our energy use and indicates the level of impact achievable when there is mass, collective and cohesive action. It is abundantly clear that dramatic change is needed if we want to meet the climate challenge. Business as usual simply won’t do. Nothing short of a societal movement to ultimately end the use of fossil fuels is now required. We must start that today and all act together where we can, with the support of Government, to get us on track with these ambitious targets.”While 2020 saw reductions in overall energy use, particularly in the transport sector, provisional data for 2021 suggests that both road diesel and petrol use, and their related CO2 emissions, have returned to close to pre-pandemic levels following the easing of restrictions.2020 Energy Balance – Key Facts and FiguresChanges in Energy Use and SupplyTotal energy consumption fell by 8.8% against a backdrop of a 5.4% contraction of the economy.Total transport energy use was down by over a quarter (26%).National energy use makes up just under 60% of Ireland’s total greenhouse gas emissionsOil-product use decreased by 16.5% – the largest annual reduction observed to date.The single largest reduction in oil-product use was the two-thirds drop in jet kerosene use for international aviation (64.3%).Consumption of road diesel and petrol were down 13.6% and 25.9%, respectively.Peat use fell by a third, mainly due to a halving of peat for electricity generation.The CO2 intensity of electricity improved by 8.1%, due to more renewable generation and less use of peat.Reductions in Energy-related CO2 EmissionsWhen international aviation is included, energy related CO2 emissions fell by 11.5%. (4.3 million tonnes of CO2)Almost half of the observed CO2 reductions are due to the drop in international aviation.Energy related CO2 emissions excluding international aviation decreased by 6.35% (2.2 million tonnes).The reduction in oil-product use lowered CO2 emissions by 3.6 million tonnes, with almost all these savings being made in the transport sector.Reductions in road diesel and petrol use lowered road-related CO2 emissions by 2 million tonnes.Reductions in peat use saved 1 million tonnes in peat-related CO2 emissions.Improvements in Renewable EnergyEnergy from renewable sources grew by over 8% in 2020.42% of all electricity generated in 2020 came from renewable sources, mainly wind energy.1Ireland reached an overall share of 13.6% renewable energy, against a 2020 EU-RES target of 16%.Ireland succeeded against its EU 2020 renewable energy target for transport (10.2% vs. 10%), and just missed its renewable energy target for electricity2 (39.1% vs. 40%).Ireland achieved just half its 2020 renewable energy target for heating and cooling (6.3% vs. 12%).[1] The normalisation calculation as prescribed in Annex II of the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC) applies to electricity generated from hydropower and wind power and is designed to even out the effects of weather variation. Note: SEAI also published two short companion documents to the National Energy Balance, providing further details on renewable energy and energy related CO2 emissions. These can be found at www.seai.ie/NationalEnergyBalance. [...] Read more...
September 25, 2021Wind farms deliver almost a fifth of Britain’s electricity, but a freak anticyclone has hovered over Western Europe since mid-August, bringing calmer weather and low wind speeds, sapping power production. According to energy consultant Cornwall Insight, wind typically accounts for 18pc of the nation’s power mix, a share which has dropped to just 2pc in the past month.“All other things being equal, a mild start to the winter with some windy weather would be peachy,” according to its lead analyst Tim Dixon.“Right now, eyes are going to be turning to medium-term weather forecasts for autumn and the start of winter. That will have a big role to play in gas demand.”But not all of the country’s energy difficulties will be gusted away even if the winds begin to blow again.Industry critics argue that the drive for greener energy has driven up costs, while previous decisions have exacerbated the dependence on imports and left Britain more vulnerable to geopolitical power plays as Russia’s Vladimir Putin starves Europe of gas. How did we get here? Pundits often reach for the hackneyed phrase of a “perfect storm” to describe a crisis, but when renewable energy accounts for 40pc of electricity generation – up from around 10pc a decade ago – Britain’s headaches are partly caused by an uncanny calm.The unfavourable weather conditions have forced Britain to turn to gas to fill the gap, but it comes at a time when demand for gas worldwide has never been higher. Faster growing Asian economies reawakening after the pandemic and filling storage sites after a harsh winter in 2020 are sucking up liquified natural gas, reducing the supplies reaching Europe. Freak weather is also playing its part elsewhere as droughts in Brazil and Argentina dent electricity output from their hydroelectric plants, forcing both to take up the slack in the gas market. At 164p a therm, gas prices are already around triple the average of the last decade.Other factors behind the spike in prices include the maintenance season for Britain’s nuclear fleet as it readies for rising winter demand. “There’s been about four or five nuclear reactors offline in the GB market of the 14 or 15 that are available,” Dixon says. Last week’s blaze in Kent will meanwhile close the main subsea electricity cable with France until March, again pushing up gas prices.As North Sea supplies dwindle, the UK imports almost half of its gas, mostly from Norway, with some from the continent. But the Kremlin is putting its foot on the throat of the European market in its bid to gain approval for the Nordstream 2 pipeline from Germany. State-owned Gazprom is supplying the bare contractual minimum to Europe, leaving storage sites just 70pc full weeks before the start of the heating season.Is the crisis temporary? Despite the prominent short-term drivers of the current spike, experts say policy decisions have also increased the UK’s energy vulnerability. In 2019, the Government U-turned on fracking – once described by Boris Johnson as “glorious news for humanity” – following a long campaign by environmentalists amid concerns over earth tremors near fracking sites.British Gas owner Centrica also closed the vast Rough offshore gas storage facility in 2017 on the grounds that it was uneconomic to run. But that decision cut the country’s strategic gas storage to less than 2pc of annual demand, leaving Britain more exposed to the vagaries of volatile wholesale markets. Andrew Large, chairman of the Energy Intensive Users Group, said the Noughties’ “dash for gas” has left the country with few options beyond expensive gas. “We’ve talked for a long time about potential grid instability due to reliance on intermittent renewables. We’ve been in a situation where our major sources of electricity are gas and wind. And when the wind doesn’t blow, as it hasn’t been for the last few weeks, then gas has to take up the slack.”Large adds that UK industry pays higher prices than Europe for its energy due to “political decisions about who pays the bills for the decarbonisation process”. Regulator Ofgem said in July that a raft of policy measures such as the Renewables Obligation and the Carbon Price Support meant that “Britain’s prices were consistently above the EU median and the most expensive overall”. How do we fix it?In the short-term, experts hope that big producers such as the US and Australia will respond to market signals by pumping more gas. “The question is whether the increase in production capacity can catch up with rising global demand levels,” Dixon says.But he adds that Britain faces a “transition period” in the power market as coal-fired plants are closed on green grounds and its nuclear fleet ages. That means more investment in nuclear energy and greater diversification, according to Large. “To my mind, if decarbonisation is the priority that the Government says it is, then we should be aiming for French levels of nuclear power investment.”He adds that “some of those decisions around UK energy security and sourcing are starting to come home to roost” and that politicians need to adapt to a more uncertain world.He says: “We have to go back to focusing on the fundamentals. And the fundamentals in this particular case, are ensuring that we have enough electrons under all conceivable sets of circumstances in order to be able to keep the lights on at reasonable prices. That therefore means gas storage, it means diversification of supply, it means greater autarky. “I’m not suggesting self sufficiency or closing international markets. But it means having greater control over your ability in matters like energy security.”In the longer term, KPMG’s energy chief Simon Virley says the Government should “double down” on green energy as it moves towards net zero by 2050: “This will help to reduce our growing dependency on imported fossil fuels, boost energy security and meet our carbon reduction goals.”What does it mean for the economy?The Bank of England is already in a tight spot as inflation hit 3.2pc in August, well above its 2pc target.That will jump further when the energy price cap rises more than 12pc in October, ramping up pressure on the Bank to rein in its ultra-loose policy of £3.4bn of quantitative easing every week and interest rates at the historic low of 0.1pc.George Buckley, economist at Nomura, predicts the Consumer Prices Index will hit 4.4pc in the final quarter of this year. But he expects inflation to fade relatively quickly through 2022, which means the Bank may ignore the burst of price hikes unless it feeds into demands for higher wages.“The Bank will be watching core inflation, inflation expectations and wages – all of those are absolutely crucial,” says Buckley, adding that so far there are few signs of a “wage-price spiral”.A further double-digit rise in the price cap looks likely next April although it is not clear what levers the Bank of England can pull to rein in energy prices driven by external factors such as global demand and low winds.Because higher bills drain funds from households, the economy could take a hit, says Andrew Goodwin at Oxford Economics, potentially prompting the Bank to keep rates lower for longer to boost family finances and support the recovery.“These sorts of increases in prices, which are completely divorced from the domestic economy, are likely to weigh on demand and on underlying inflationary pressures, so I would be surprised if the Bank used this as an extra reason to tighten policy – it is more an issue for the strength of the recovery and an added concern,” he says. Original Article – https://www.msn.com/en-gb/money/other/inside-britains-energy-crisis-and-how-to-fix-it/ar-AAODOkU [...] Read more...
September 12, 2021Britain’s power grid has repeatedly fallen below its targeted frequency level this year, raising fears that it is struggling to cope with intermittent energy supplies.It comes amid rising international energy costs and a recent drop in wind power due to particularly still weather. Earlier this week the UK was forced to bring a coal-fired power plant back online to boost the grid.The grid’s level of frequency dipped to between 49.79Hz and 49.67Hz on 11 occasions between February and June, according to data analysed by The Sunday Telegraph from the Gridwatch database which measures frequency at five-minute intervals.This is within the legal limit of 49.5Hz but outside what National Grid sets as its own operational limits of between 49.8Hz and 50.2Hz.Frequency is determined by the balance between power supply and demand, which needs to be continuously matched. The British grid is set to run at 50Hz.There were national blackouts in August 2019 when a wind farm and gas-fired power plant tripped off, triggering a plunge in frequency to 48.88Hz and other local generators to disconnect. Generators are set to trip if the frequency falls too fast, to avoid damage.National Grid said it “operates one of the most reliable electricity systems in the world, and frequency deviations outside our required limits are extremely rare”.Matching power supply and demand can be more challenging when there are more intermittent sources of power on the system, such as wind and solar plants. These green sources of energy also lack the ability of fossil fuel generators such as coal and gas-fired plants to help stabilise the grid even if the generator has tripped, by providing inertia.Renewable power generated more electricity than fossil fuels in the UK in 2020 for the first time. During the year, 43.1pc of UK power came from renewables and 37.7pc from fossil fuels, with nuclear and imports making up the bulk of the rest. Britain now goes for long stretches without using domestic coal-fired power stations, and officials want to be able to run the grid without gas-fired generation for short periods by 2025.National Grid ESO, which balances Britain’s electricity supply and demand, has introduced new techniques to help it manage frequency even as the power system evolves, including technology to respond more quickly to frequency changes, and making generators less sensitive to falls in frequency.Tom Edwards, at Cornwall Insight, said giant power cables connecting the British power grid to the Continent are a growing cause of frequency changes.“Interconnectors are some of the largest plants that can trip,” he said. “It causes a large drop or rise depending on the direction in which power was flowing. We have seen a number of excursions outside the operational limits of frequency because of interconnectors.”The power cut in August 2019 was the first in a decade in Britain, affecting more than a million people as well as hospitals, airports, rail and road networks, from the South East to Yorkshire.Hornsea One, RWE and UK Power Networks were fined £10.5m in total by Ofgem. National Grid was not censured but Ofgem has since recommended that its role balancing supply and demand be handed to an independent body.The Nemo subsea cable to Belgium carries electricity to a plant in Kent where power is fed into the grid.As Britain battled record electricity prices last week, power continued to flow along the 720km new cable between Blyth in Northumberland and Kvilldal in south-east Norway.Officials were testing the North Sea Link that plugs Britain into Norway’s hydropower-rich electricity system, which should be able to supply up to 4.2pc of the UK’s electricity demand once fully up and running in October.It is among a growing number of giant underground power cables – known as interconnectors – between Britain and continental Europe, including a planned first-ever link with Germany which developers hope to start using by the mid-2020s.Officials on both sides are counting on such cables to play a key role in the energy system as the industry shifts towards renewables, helping to smooth out gaps in supply and demand from intermittent wind and solar power.The system means new ties with Europe – setting up opportunities for the country to make the most out of its vast offshore wind resources, yet also forming a new energy dependence in the renewable era.“Electricity generation is moving away from localised generation to generating in the most geographically optimal way,” says Hugo Lidbetter, partner at Fieldfisher law firm.“In the North Sea, that’s offshore wind; in southern Europe, it’s solar. Interconnection is one way of moving that power around to balance the markets.”Britain had its first power links to the Continent in 1961. Now there are six connected to the Irish single electricity market, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. Those cables supplied about 8pc of Britain’s power last year and several more are in development, including to Norway, France, the Netherlands. Another, the NeuConnect project to Germany, is backed by investors including Meridiam, Allianz Group and Japanese utility Kansai Electric Power. North Sea Link is a joint venture project between the National Grid and Norwegian operator Statnett to build a subsea electricity cable – seen here under construction – that will connect the UK and Norwegian electricity gridsNational Grid says projects are in place that will be able to supply 25pc of British power by 2024, while links further afield than Europe are also being looked at. Entrepreneurs led by Simon Morrish are exploring plans to build a cable bringing power from Morocco’s sun-drenched Sahara all the way to Britain.This Xlinks project echoes an aborted plan in the early 2000s known as Desertec, which aimed to create giant wind and solar parks in North Africa before ultimately failing amid political and practical concerns.In the current state British interconnectors are mostly used for importing cheaper power than is provided by domestic generators. Officials, however, expect Britain to become a net exporter of power by 2040 at the latest as its offshore wind capacity grows.Confirmed projects so far mean that British interconnector capacity is set to expand from about 4GW to 13GW by the end of the decade. That is still less than the 18GW the Government has said it wants in place by 2030 to coincide with the planned fourfold ramp up in offshore wind power.Projects are expensive, lengthy and complicated – though it remains an attractive investment area. Humza Malik, chief executive of Frontier Power, which is behind the Zeno interconnector project to the Netherlands and active on other developments including NeuConnect, is positive. He says the cap and floor regime introduced by Britain’s regulator Ofgem has provided “a level of certainty for investors without exposing consumers to unacceptably high prices.”Industry was spooked, however, at the end of 2020 by the threat of access to the EU’s single energy markets becoming a political tool amid Britain’s departure from the EU. The bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier reportedly threatened to block Britain from the market in an effort to attract concessions on fishing rights, while France’s President Emmanuel Macron wielded a similar threat.Both fishing rights and energy market access are up for renegotiation in 2026, raising the prospect of the threat rearing its head again. John Pettigrew, chief executive of National Grid, has tried to pour cold water on those concerns, telling the Financial Times in July that there has “never been much tension around the interconnectors” as they are seen as “of mutual benefit”. During a dispute over fishing rights, France’s President Emmanuel Macron threatened to cut off Britain’s access to power from its undersea cable CREDIT: AFPBrexit has, however, restricted access to EU development funding. Experts say it might also cut incentives for European countries to develop interconnectors with Britain now it is outside the EU’s own targets for interconnection.Regulators may think “if there’s no benefit for my consumers, and the only benefits are for British consumers, why should I bother?” says Tom Edwards at energy research firm Cornwall Insight. “There’s less quid pro quo.”Electricity prices between interconnecting markets do tend to converge and, currently, British power is typically more expensive than in Europe partly due to top-up prices on carbon in Britain. Cornwall Insight points to studies suggesting the North Sea Link between Britain and Norway will raise Norwegian power prices by between £1.7 – £2.1 per MWh, while reducing prices in Britain.The soaring prices in British and EU power markets last week provided a window into the opportunity for interconnectors – but also the risks. A global gas supply crunch and lull in wind power pushed power prices in Britain to all time highs of £285 per MwH on Thursday – more than four-times their normal rate. Two days earlier wholesale gas prices climbed to 136.6p per therm, compared to less than 30p one year ago, while on Monday National Grid spent a record £20m matching supply and demand as it paid over the odds to bring on new generation including coal-fired power stations.Many argue the chaos highlights the need for more flexibility in the system to help smooth out renewable energy supply and spiking gas prices. This can be provided by interconnectors and other sources such as car batteries plugged into the grid, storage batteries, hydropower and hydrogen.The large risks were also made clear as Ireland blocked power exports to Britain via the Moyle interconnector that links Northern Ireland and Scotland. It followed warnings of generation shortfalls in the Irish market, where it is believed the rise of power-hungry data centres are putting extra strain on the grid.Glenn Rickson, head of European power analysis at S&P Platts, says diversifying sources is important. “There will always be times of relatively tight supply. Britain struggles the most when wind generation is low. It tends to be the case that if wind is low in Britain it’s also low in the rest of Europe.“It helps that we are diversifying connection points to other countries, spreading around the risk of low wind supply and other factors.“But you need to build flexibility: interconnection is a tool in the armory, but you need other solutions as well.”The Nuclear Industry Association trade body, which published the analysis of National Grid’s record spending, insists that stable nuclear power is what is needed instead.Phil Hewitt, founder of market data specialist EnApSyss, says Britain is heading for a “tight winter” but that the same period next year will be possibly “even more interesting”, as more coal and nuclear stations retire in both Britain and Europe.“The key electricity market in Europe is Germany,” he says. “It sits in the middle and consumes a lot. And Germany start aggressively shutting their coal and nuclear power next winter, which might start driving prices higher in Europe.”Ireland’s decision to block power exports might not end up being an isolated event.“Europe has a single electricity market and generally power flows from the cheapest to most expensive markets. There are also the laws of physics which means that power doesn’t stop at borders,” said Rickson.“Under competition law there are rules against “hoarding” power by one country but when security of supply is at risk there are precedents for countries preventing exports to neighbouring markets where possible, and it’s not inconceivable we could see that happen again this winter in extreme circumstances.” Original Article – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/09/11/power-struggle-europe-uk-grid-struggles-keep-lights/ [...] Read more...
August 13, 2021The energy watchdog said the increase will affect 15 million U.K. customers between October 2021 and March 2022. Around 11 million households on default tariffs paying by direct debit will see a GBP139 increase, to GBP1,277, compared with the summer 2021 price. Four million prepayment customers will see a GBP153 raise, to GBP1,309, it said.The wholesale energy cost component, which makes up for around 40% of the bill, will increase by 42%, or GBP155. it said. This has been partially offset by slightly lower costs elsewhere.Ofgem blamed a 50% rise in energy costs over the past six months for the increase, with gas prices reaching record highs.“Higher energy bills are never welcome and the timing and size of this increase will be particularly difficult for many families still struggling with the impact of the pandemic,” Ofgem Chief Executive Jonathan Brearley said.Mr. Brearley said the price cap means that suppliers only pass on legitimate costs, and he encouraged struggling customers to access available help and to shop around for a better deal if possible.Shares at 0737 GMT in Centrica PLC, the owner of British Gas, were down 0.5% at 47.77 pence. Shares in Telecom Plus PLC, another British energy supplier, were up 0.4% at 1,034 pence.Energy UK, an organization representing U.K. energy companies, said prices are increasing because of global factors that are out of retailers’ control.“Ofgem sets the price cap at a fair level for customers, but it also needs to reflect when suppliers face increased costs to allow them to keep operating in a market where most providers are making little or no profit at present,” Energy UK Chief Executive Emma Pinchbeck said. The GMB union said on Twitter that the price-cap increase is “outrageous,” and that it will pile pressure on the poorest households while increasing U.K. dependence on energy imports. Original article – https://www.marketwatch.com/story/u-k-energy-price-cap-to-increase-by-gbp139-this-winter-as-gas-power-prices-soar-update-271628237369 [...] Read more...
August 13, 2021Work on a new state-of-the-art energy stabiliser will begin in Moneypoint Generating Station in the coming weeks.The €50m synchronous compensator is a key aspect of the ESB’s multi-billion Euro Green Atlantic development.The new compensator will be the first in the country and will incorporate the world’s largest flywheel used for grid stability.Due to the intermittency of wind energy, grid stabilisation technologies have an increasingly important role in a successful energy transition.The synchronous compensator will enable the management of the transmission system safely and securely with a reduced dispatch of fossil fuel plant under constraints and reduced costs of transmission operations.In a statement, the ESB stated it is pleased to bring forward the Moneypoint synchronous compensator with flywheel as a cost-effective and zero-carbon solution in strengthening the stability and resilience of the Irish grid.An ESB spokeswoman confirmed manufacturing of the main electrical and mechanical components commenced earlier this year, works on site will commence this month, and installation of the main equipment will take place in April 2022.Commissioning of the new plant is planned for mid-2022 and commercial operation in October 2022.Green energy hubAs part of ESB’s plan to transform Moneypoint into a green energy hub, it is investing almost €50m in pioneering technology that will help Ireland’s renewable energy ambitions.The construction of the synchronous compensator will enable higher volumes of renewables on the grid. Siemens Energy has been awarded the contract to carry out the construction and engineering works for the technology.Synchronous compensators are electrical devices that are used to manage the stability of the national grid including the relationship between voltage and current and the resilience of the system to sudden faults. Though a synchronous compensator does not generate electricity, it is essentially a large electric motor that is connected in a particular manner to allow it to act as a support to the system when required.This allows the system operator, such as EirGrid in the Republic of Ireland, to manage the transmission system safely and securely with a reduced dispatch. As a result, this enables reduced carbon impact of transmission operations and reduced constraint costs.The development at Moneypoint incorporates a large flywheel rotor – a heavy, rotating weight c.130t in a casing rotating under vacuum conditions to reduce friction losses that is, in turn, attached to the shaft of the motor.This weight acts as a physical stabiliser on the system to automatically compensate for sudden short-term changes in the system.If a fault occurs on the electricity network, the synchronous compensator counters its impact by allowing system protection for vital fractions of a second which enables generators on the system to respond – this is known as providing inertia.The ESB has also announced plans to develop a new floating offshore wind farm of 1,400MW off the coast of Clare as part of a multi-billion euro transformation of Moneypoint Power Station into a green energy renewables hub.Once complete, the wind farm will be capable of powering more than 1.6 million homes in Ireland. Subject to the appropriate consents being granted, the wind farm is expected to be in production within the next decade.Floating wind turbinesMoneypoint will also become a centre for the construction and assembly of floating wind turbines. A deep-water port already exists at the site, making it an ideal staging ground for the construction of the wind farm.It is expected this will generate a significant number of direct jobs in the Mid-West region. In the longer term, the development of Moneypoint will support wider plans for Shannon Foynes port, and working with local stakeholders, help make the Shannon Estuary a focal point for the offshore wind industry in Europe.ESB’s plans include investment in a green hydrogen production, storage and generation facility at Moneypoint towards the end of the decade. A clean, zero-carbon fuel, green hydrogen will be produced from renewable energy and used for power generation, heavy goods vehicles in the transport sector and to help de-carbonise a wide range of industries such as pharmaceuticals, electronics and cement manufacturing. Original article – https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/munster/arid-40355108.html [...] Read more...
August 6, 2021The PSO levy is paid by all electricity customers in Ireland and is used to support the renewable energy sector.Following a review of the PSO cost submissions, the CRU’s final calculation is that a PSO levy of €263.70 million will be required for the 2021/22 PSO year. This represents a decrease of €129.43 million (32.92%) on the 2020/21 levy of €393.13 million.Domestic Customers will see the PSO levy on their electricity bill reduce by 34% or €4.30 per month – previously €6.52 per month.Small Commercial Customers will see the levy reduce by 36% or €13.63 per month – previously €21.41 per month.Medium/Large Customers will see the levy reduce by 41% or €1.63 kVa – previously €2.78 kVa.Daragh Cassidy, Head of Communications at price comparison website, bonkers.ie, said the fall in the levy is welcome but it is a hollow victory for consumers.“To put things into perspective, recent price increases have added around €300 to the average household’s annual energy bills,” he said.“Because the main objective of the PSO levy is to promote and support the renewable energy sector in Ireland it has been determined that certain types of power generation e.g. wind and solar, should be protected from sharp market fluctuations.So in general, if the wholesale electricity price (also known as the SEM price) is high, less money is needed to subsidise and support renewable energy plants. That’s because they receive more money on the open market for the electricity they produce.“When wholesale prices are low, more money is usually needed to subsidise PSO supported schemes because they make less money on the open market,” Mr Cassidy said.“Thus when the wholesale price of electricity rises the PSO levy tends to fall and vice versa. And this is what we’re seeing now.”The CRU’s role is to calculate the PSO levy in accordance with Government policy and the governing legislation and to ensure that the scheme is administered appropriately and efficiently. Original article – https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2021/0803/1238779-electricity-bills-should-fall-after-cru-cuts-pso-levy/ [...] Read more...
August 6, 2021The UK is looking to bring Irish firms on board for joint bids in future renewable energy projects, including offshore wind.Britain’s trade envoy to Ireland told the Irish Independent that offshore wind was a major opportunity for investors on both sides of the Irish Sea, as both governments have made made ambitious renewable electricity targets.“It’s all about building alliances,” said Shirley McCay, director of international trade in Ireland at the British embassy in Dublin.“We want UK and Irish companies to work together and to bid jointly for all the massive contracts that are going to be on offer in Ireland, particularly as a result of offshore wind capacity, and indeed in the UK because the UK too is committed to really growing the offshore sector, particularly floating.”The UK is one of the world leaders on offshore wind and has recently begun to develop floating farms, which don’t need to be tethered to the sea bed and can therefore harness stronger wind energy further out to sea.“Ireland is just at the start of that journey whereas in the UK we’re much further on and it’s a big part of our energy input, so we really want to share the UK’s experience with Ireland, and share the companies that are doing well,” Ms McCay said.The UK charm offensive was launched yesterday at an outdoor event in the British ambassador’s residence in Leopardstown, where 30 Irish companies mingled – in a socially distant way – with UK officials.“Supporting a green recovery is a top priority for Ireland and the UK,” said British Ambassador to Ireland, Paul Johnston. “As close neighbours and important trading partners, we want to deepen UK and Ireland partnerships and promote opportunities where Irish companies can create solutions to these challenges with UK partners.”Pat O’Connor, co-founder of VRAI, an Irish company specialising in virtual reality simulations, was at the event, and said expanding into the UK had been invaluable for the firm.It recently won £1.2m (€1.4m) in UK government funding to help train the UK offshore wind workforce.Ireland has pledged to boost offshore wind capacity by at least 3.5GW by 2030, and as much as 5GW, to help it meets its target of 70pc renewable electricity.Eirgrid, which manages the flow of energy around the island, will hold Ireland’s first ever offshore wind auction at the end of the year under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS), where companies bid for capacity and are guaranteed a price for their power.The UK will host a major UN climate change conference, COP26, in Glasgow in November, and is calling on Irish companies to join the global coalition to reach net-zero emissions known as Business Ambition for 1.5C commitment.Several Irish companies have already joined, including An Post, building products giant Kingspan and clothing retailer Primark (Penney’s).The embassy will  organise a trade mission to Ireland next spring for green companies from northern England. Original article – https://www.independent.ie/business/irish/uk-targets-irelands-offshore-wind-sector-in-renewables-trade-push-40705830.html [...] Read more...
July 30, 2021More people are facing increases to their electricity bills after provider Pinergy became the latest to announce an increase to its standard residential energy prices.The company said the move follows sustained issues in the wholesale energy market and national grid, which are causing “unprecedented pricing pressures”.The change, which will take effect from August 23rd, will result in a standard unit rate price increase of 3.5 cents. For a typical household, this will amount to an 11.4 per cent increase.The increase will be equivalent to a €3.61 per week increase, including VAT, in the estimated annual bill, based on a domestic customer using typical consumption per annum on standard tariffs.The company’s move follows an announcement in recent weeks by Bord Gáis Energy that it will hike prices in the face of surging wholesale costs. Households face electricity bill increases of around €11 a month from August 8th.The company will increase gas prices by 12.7 per cent, adding €8.36 to the average monthly bill, and boost electricity charges by 11.6 per cent, or €11.39 a month on average.Similarly, ESB subsidiary Electric Ireland recently announced it was increasing its prices, adding an average of €8.20 a month to household electricity bills.Oil, gas and coal prices have been rising on world markets this year as countries re-open following 2020 Covid lockdowns.This is in turn driving up Irish wholesale electricity costs, which have almost trebled over the last 12 months from lows of €30 to €40 a mega watt hour – the unit in which power is sold – to more than €100.SSE Airtricity, Flogas, Iberdrola and Energia, have all increased household charges this year.IDA Ireland told regulators in recent days that warnings around electricity demand pushing supplies to their limit had sparked concern among multinationals in the Republic.A review meant to gauge security of energy supplies in the Republic will not be completed until next year, according to Eamon Ryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications.Fears are growing about energy security next winter as two electricity generators remain out of action while demand surges as data centres and other facilities seek extra power.Pinergy chief executive Enda Gunnell said: “Regrettably, due to the continued and significant infrastructural supply issues and wholesale pricing outside our control, we will have to increase prices again to our customers.“We have raised these issues on behalf of our customers with both policy makers and regulators in recent weeks. Unfortunately, this cycle of price increases is likely to continue until real action is taken.“We had hoped the energy transition to net zero carbon would be smooth. Regrettably it seems that homes and businesses will have to bear the increased costs, at least in the short term.“I would, however like to reassure our customers that Pinergy will be doing its best to continue to offer value and data-led insights to help them to reduce energy waste.“In the short term, we welcome the reduction in the PSO levy. However, it will not offset the increases being faced by electricity users across Ireland.” Original article – https://www.irishtimes.com/business/energy-and-resources/pinergy-becomes-latest-energy-provider-to-increase-rates-1.4628791 [...] Read more...
July 22, 2021Data showing electricity demand growing faster than renewables across the world is particularly pertinent to Ireland, especially with the proliferation of data centres, a leading energy expert has said.The International Energy Agency (IEA) said this week that renewables are expanding quickly but not quickly enough to satisfy a strong rebound in global electricity demand.This is resulting in a sharp rise in the use of coal power that risks pushing carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector to record levels next year, the IEA said.The agency said, in its Electricity Market Report, that after falling by about 1% in 2020 due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, global electricity demand is set to grow by close to 5% in 2021 and 4% in 2022, driven by the global economic recovery.The majority of the increase in electricity demand is expected to come from the Asia Pacific region, primarily China and India, it added.Reacting to the report, Dr Paul Deane of MaREI, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine, told the Irish Examiner that the IEA analysis is very relevant for Ireland, and in many aspects, is it more pressing. “Ireland is relatively unique in Europe as projections for electricity demand are very strong and this is mainly driven by data centre demand. The demand from electric cars and electric heating systems is expected to be more modest.“EirGrid, which operates the power grid, estimate that demand could grow as much as 33% to 2030 and this could put our power system under increased pressure.”Coupled with this, Ireland has a number of significant power station outages at the moment which is already causing strain in the system, the University College Cork (UCC) energy researcher added.“The IEA analysis points to the need to think carefully about the reliability of our power system, and for Ireland, this means looking at both the supply and demand of electricity, and in particular the ability of our system to accommodate such high demand from data centres.”The IEA said in its report that based on current policy settings and economic trends, electricity generation from renewables – including hydropower, wind and solar PV – is on track to grow strongly around the world over the next two years – by 8% in 2021 and by more than 6% in 2022. But even with this strong growth, renewables will only be able to meet around half the projected increase in global electricity demand over those two years, it warned.“Fossil fuel-based electricity generation is set to cover 45% of additional demand in 2021 and 40% in 2022, with nuclear power accounting for the rest. As a result, carbon emissions from the electricity sector – which fell in both 2019 and 2020 – are forecast to increase by 3.5% in 2021 and by 2.5% in 2022, which would take them to an all-time high,” the IEA said.The only time that renewable growth has outstripped the growth in demand was over the past two years, but that was the exception to the norm, it cautioned.“Renewable power is growing impressively in many parts of the world, but it still isn’t where it needs to be to put us on a path to reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century. As economies rebound, we’ve seen a surge in electricity generation from fossil fuels,” said Keisuke Sadamori, the IEA Director of Energy Markets and Security.  Original article – https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40338554.html [...] Read more...
July 22, 2021Warnings that electricity demand was pushing supplies to their limit sparked concern among multinationals in the Republic, IDA Ireland has told regulators.Electricity market regulators last winter issued several “amber alerts”, warning that demand in the Dublin area was close to capacity, increasing the risk of power cuts should the network run into problems.IDA Ireland says the amber alerts “are causing disquiet in the foreign direct investment community”, in a submission to the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU).The State agency responsible for luring overseas companies that employ 257,000 workers in Republic, highlights the disquiet in its response to the commission’s consultation on data centres.It points out that multinational investors regard the electricity system’s stability as one of the Republic’s traditional strengths.The agency stresses that supply challenges must be resolved as soon as possible to meet the needs of an expanding economy.However, the IDA submission argues that any move to temporarily halt connecting data centres to the national grid would cause the State “considerable reputational damage” and hit the wider hi-tech sector.Data centresAmong other proposals, the CRU suggested imposing a moratorium on grid connections for data centres, whose growth is partly blamed for increasing electricity demand, particularly close to Dublin.The IDA also has serious doubts about the CRU’s most favoured option, that data centres with their own independent electricity generators, get priority for grid connection in the future.The development agency argues that this would require data centres to spend money building unsustainable fossil fuel-powered generators.IDA clients have a clear preference that the market supply their electricity from increasingly sustainable sources, the submission says.It notes that data centres favour purchase agreements with individual wind- and solar-powered electricity generators.The agency maintains that the CRU and national electricity grid operator, Eirgrid, should instead prioritise centres with these deals for connection.Eirgrid has agreed to connect data centres, likely to require 1,800 mega watts (MW) of electricity in total, to the grid, while it has applications from similar businesses seeking a further 2,000MW.The grid operator told the CRU in June that growing demand from data centres, which can consume as much power as a large town, threatened security of electricity supplies in the Republic.The statement prompted the CRU to begin the consultation, which set out various options for future data centre connections, including that Eirgrid prioritise connection applications from centres outside Dublin.Last winter’s amber alerts were partly due to the fact that two gas-fired electricity stations were out of action. One of them, an Energia-owned facility in Huntstown, Dublin, will resume generating in October.IDA Ireland argues that data centres are just one source of demand, accounting for 11 per cent of overall electricity consumption.The agency says it is concerned that the CRU’s consultation wants these electricity customers to alter their approach to investing in the Republic to “meet shortfalls on the supply side”.Economic boostIts submission points out that data centres are part of a technology industry that employs 140,000 people in the Republic and generates about €52 billion each year.IDA Ireland adds that technology businesses with data centres in the Republic employ 20,000 people, while their spending, taxes and investment contribute substantially to the economy.A recent report shows that Amazon Web Services supported 8,700 jobs here between 2011 and 2020. Last year, the company spent €228 million hiring Irish subcontractors to work on its data centres outside the Republic.The multinational recruited these businesses as they had gained experience working on the company’s Irish facilities. Original article – https://www.irishtimes.com/business/energy-and-resources/electricity-grid-warnings-causing-disquiet-among-multinationals-says-ida-1.4627029 [...] Read more...
July 6, 2021The company said the increase is due to more expensive wholesale energy costs.Electric Ireland last increased its prices in autumn when it raised electricity prices by 3.4%.The increase announced today will add almost €100 a year to the average annual electricity bill and €60 to the average annual gas bill.In April, almost all the country’s energy suppliers increased their prices and in recent weeks Flogas, Pinergy, Panda Power and Iberdrola raised their prices for the second time this year.Electricity prices in Ireland are already 23% above the EU average and the fourth most expensive in the 27-nation EU, recent figures from Eurostat show.Gas prices here are the seventh most expensive in the EU.Marguerite Sayers, executive director at Electric Ireland, said the company had hoped that wholesale prices might stabilise but unfortunately, they have continued to increase and are significantly higher than this time last year.“As a result, we must reluctantly pass on some of these costs to our customers from August 1,” she said.Marguerite Sayers said the company appreciated this may be a difficult time for some customers, adding that it is committed to helping customers who are experiencing financial difficulty.“We encourage any customers experiencing trouble paying bills to engage with us and we will commit to putting in place an affordable and workable payment plan with them in the coming months,” she added. Electric Ireland said it also continues to offer a 5% discount to customers experiencing financial hardship, through industry prepayment meters and the Household Budget Scheme.Daragh Cassidy, Head of Communications at bonkers.ie, said today’s news was almost inevitable given all the recent price increases that we have seen.The cost of electricity in particular on the wholesale market has almost trebled since July of last year so these increases were bound to be passed on.A lot of the country’s electricity still comes from burning coal and gas in particular and while the price of these fossil fuels collapsed at the height of the pandemic, they have increased significantly in recent months as the world economy opens back up.“What’s more, transmission and distribution network charges – or more simply the charges for maintaining and running the country’s gas and electricity networks – were increased by the energy regulator late last year,” Daragh Cassidy said.“These charges make up around 30% of the price we pay for our energy and the increases have been passed on to customers,” he added. Original article – https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2021/0701/1232454-electric-ireland-price-increases/ [...] Read more...
July 2, 2021The UK Government first announced plans to move the date from 2025 to 2024 in February 2020 and said, at the time, that the official change to legislation would be made ahead of COP26. At that time, the UN climate summit was still set to take place in autumn 2020. It was subsequently delayed for a year due to Covid-19.Today (30 June), Ministers confirmed the October 2024 date. The phase-out applies to coal-fired electricity generation only; industrial sectors including steelmaking will still be permitted to use coal for heat to be used in processes. Similarly, coal mines in the UK will still be permitted to operate, with extracted coal to be used domestically for heavy industry or internationally.Coal exported may still be used for electricity generation. However, the UK is calling on all other nations to implement their own legally binding phase-out dates.At the recent G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, participating nations collectively agreed to develop net-zero targets for their power sectors in the 2030s. Dates will vary between nations but there are new shared commitments on coal. G7 governments must end direct support for new thermal coal generation capacity without co-located carbon capture technologies by the end of this year. All other “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies must then be phased out by 2025.Looking specifically at the UK’s domestic electricity generation space, coal accounted for almost 40% of generation in 2010, but its share of the energy mix in the electricity sector had fallen to 1.8% by 2020, as more gas and renewables came online. 2020 saw the UK experiencing more than 5,000 hours without coal-fired electricity.“Coal powered the industrial revolution two hundred years ago, but now is the time for radical action to completely eliminate this dirty fuel from our energy system,” Energy & Climate Change Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said.“Today we’re sending a clear signal around the world that the UK is leading the way in consigning coal power to the history books and that we’re serious about decarbonising our power system so we can meet our ambitious, world-leading climate targets.”The announcement came shortly after the Climate Change Committee (CCC) issued its latest progress report on decarbonisation to Parliament. The report states that the decarbonisation rates already achieved in the UK’s electricity sector must now be replicated elsewhere as a matter of urgency, including in sectors such as heat and the built environment, if the nation is to get on track to meet the Sixth Carbon Budget commitments. Original article – https://www.edie.net/news/11/UK-s-coal-fired-electricity-ban-officially-brought-forward-to-2024/ [...] Read more...
Media Releases
November 16, 2022Wholesale Electricity and Gas Policy Division,Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications29-31 Adelaide RoadDublin 2D02 X28528 October 2022Department of the Environment, Climate and CommunicationsBy email: energyconsultation@decc.gov.ieResponse to consultation onReview of the Security of Energy Supply of Ireland’s Electricity and Natural Gas Systems Dear Sir/Madam,MaresConnect Limited (MCL) welcomes the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications’ (DECC) consultation on Review of the Security of Energy Supply of Ireland’s Electricity and Natural Gas Systems 19 September 2022 (the Consultation).MaresConnect is a proposed 750MW electricity interconnector linking the power markets of Ireland (IE) and Great Britain (GB). MaresConnect has a GB interconnector licence and a GB grid connection agreement for 750MW interconnector at National Grid’s Bodelwyddan station in North Wales.MaresConnect is a near-term interconnector targeting commencement of operations in 2028 and is being developed by a highly experienced management team who have worked on 7 interconnector projects, including four connecting (or proposed) to Ireland. The Project is funded by a major shareholder, Foresight Energy Infrastructure Partners (FEIP), with funding committed through the development phase.We set out below our response to selected questions set out in the consultation.Please do not hesitate to get in touch should you wish to discuss any aspect of this response.Yours sincerely,Simon LudlamCEOMares Connect Limited Click here to read response [...] Read more...
October 24, 2022Dublin, 24 October 2022MaresConnect Limited has announced today that it has appointed the former Chief Executive of ESB, Pat O’Doherty, as Chairman and non-executive Director of its Board. MaresConnect is being developed by Foresight Group’s[1] energy transition fund, Foresight Energy Infrastructure Partners, and Etchea Energy [2].MaresConnect is a proposed 750MW electricity interconnector linking the power markets of Ireland and Great Britain[3]. The cable route is approximately 245km under-sea and underground between Dublin in Ireland and Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire in Wales.As part of Europe’s 2022 Ten Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP)[4], MaresConnect is considered one of a number of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects aimed at delivering significant improvement in cross-border electricity interconnection to boost security of supply and will facilitate the integration of Ireland’s abundant renewable energy resources into neighbouring energy markets.Pat O’Doherty – MaresConnect LimitedPat O’Doherty was Chief Executive of the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), Ireland’s state-owned electricity utility, between 2011 and 2021.  Prior to his appointment as Chief Executive, Pat headed up each of ESB’s main businesses as Executive Director ESB International, Managing Director ESB Networks and Executive Director ESB Power Generation.Richard Thompson, Partner at Foresight Group, said “We warmly welcome Pat to the Board of MaresConnect, and look forward to leveraging Pat’s wealth of experience to help drive this exciting project forward”.Simon Ludlam, partner at Etchea Energy and CEO for MaresConnect said “We are delighted to welcome Pat as Chairman of the Board. Pat’s experience and depth of knowledge of the energy market both in Ireland and the UK will be a great asset to MaresConnect.”“MaresConnect is critical and much needed energy infrastructure for both Ireland and the UK” said Pat O’Doherty. “In Foresight Group and Etchea Energy, we have the scale, commitment, and capability to make this project a real success for all stakeholders. I am very pleased to join the Board of MaresConnect Limited as Chairman, and I very much look forward to working with the Board and Management to bring this project to fruition”.MaresConnect has secured interconnector licence from Ofgem and a 750MW grid connection agreement at National Grid’s Bodelwyddan substation. MaresConnect intends to apply for Initial Project Assessment status in Ofgem’s third cap & floor window which closes 31 October 2022. MaresConnect is engaging with the CRU and EirGrid in Ireland to progress the Irish grid connection and regulatory process. MaresConnect is carrying out onshore and marine feasibility studies. Following the current development, the project is expected to have a three year construction programme leading to operations in 2027.ENDS Notes to Editors:[1] Foresight Group was founded in 1984 and is a leading listed infrastructure and private equity investment manager. With a long-established focus on ESG and sustainability-led strategies, it aims to provide attractive returns to its institutional and private investors from hard-to-access private markets. Foresight manages over 300 infrastructure assets with a focus on solar and onshore wind assets, bioenergy and waste, as well as renewable energy enabling projects, energy efficiency management solutions, social and core infrastructure projects and sustainable forestry assets. Its private equity team manages eight regionally focused investment funds across the UK and a SME impact fund supporting Irish SMEs. This team reviews close to 2,500 business plans each year and currently supports more than 130 SMEs. Foresight Capital Management manages four strategies across six investment vehicles with an AUM of over £1.6 billion.Foresight operates from 12 offices across six countries in Europe and Australia with AUM of £12.4 billion as at 30 June 2022. Foresight Group Holdings Limited listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange in February 2021 https://www.fsg-investors.com/[2] Etchea Energy Partners LLP, based in London and Dublin, is a leading project development firm in the energy sector. Etchea Energy will provide the core management team to MaresConnect and leverage its broad experience in developing interconnectors in Northwest Europe.[3] MaresConnect is a proposed 750MW, subsea and underground cable interconnector (with associated converter stations) between the existing electricity grids in Ireland and Great Britain, operated respectively by EirGrid and National Grid Electricity Transmission. The project will link the Maynooth substation near Dublin (Ireland) and Bodelwyddan transmission substation in Denbighshire (Wales). Further details can be found at the project’s website: www.maresconnect.ie[4] MaresConnect has been recognised as a TYNDP 2022 project by ENTSO-E following support received from both the Irish and UK governments.About Pat O’Doherty Pat O’Doherty joined MaresConnect on 5 October as Chairman and Director on the boards of all three of the MaresConnect group companies.From 2011 to 2021, Pat was Chief Executive of ESB, the Irish State-owned energy company with €14Bn of Assets, 8,000 employees and annual operating profits in the region of €600m with operations across Generation, Transmission & Distribution and Electricity & Gas Supply in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain and Internationally. During this time, Pat:Oversaw the transformation of ESB and repositioned the company to lead the transition to a low carbon future powered by clean electricity.Led a capital investment programme of €1Bn per annum in electricity transmission and distribution networks and generation assets, raising over €5Bn of debt funding in the Euro bond marketAchieved a threefold increase in ESB’s investment in renewables including ESB’s first off-shore wind developmentGenerated over €1.5Bn in shareholder dividends.Prior to his appointment as Chief Executive, Pat headed ESB’s largest businesses as Executive Director ESB International, Managing Director ESB Networks and Executive Director ESB Power Generation.  Pat holds Primary and master’s degrees in Engineering from UCD and has completed Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Programme. He is a Chartered Engineer & Fellow of Engineers Ireland.Pat was formerly Vice President and President of Eurelectric, the Brussels-based industry association of the European power sector representing 3,500 electricity utility companies.  Pat was also formerly Director of Energy UK, the trade association for the energy industry representing suppliers, generators and service providers across the UK. [...] Read more...
September 12, 20228 September 2022Department of the Environment, Climate and CommunicationsResponse to consultation on Electricity Interconnection Policy MaresConnect Limited welcomes the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications’ consultation on electricity interconnection policy published on 10 June 2022.We set out below our key points in response to the consultation and provide a detailed response to each of the consultation questions in the Schedule attached with supporting evidence where appropriate.Interconnection as a key enabler for energy and climate targets Ireland has been clear in its energy ambitions and strategic priorities, setting pioneering targets which are essential if Ireland is to address the current energy crisis, rapidly decarbonise, and leverage the island’s plentiful renewable resources to become a leading exporter of green power.   Further interconnector capacity (over and above the Greenlink and Celtic interconnectors planned to come onstream by 2030) will be a key enabler to addressing these issues and tackle the ongoing security of supply risk and climate emergency, and most importantly will be an immediate solution in avoiding heavy curtailment of wind power coming onto the system over the coming decade.  Protecting security of supply   Further interconnection should be prioritised as a central part of Ireland’s overall energy solution in the short and medium term, ensuring security of supply, particularly towards the back end of the decade when Ireland will rely on variable renewable energy to meet 80% of its growing demand and will substitute legacy fossil fuel generation to meet Ireland’s base load demand. As demand continues to grow, because of the rapid drive towards electrification and the ever-increasing number of large demand customers such as data centres, security of supply will continue to be the top priority, particularly for an islanded system such as Ireland. As a result, greater levels of interconnection will play a crucial role in maintaining a safe and secure supply.  Future changes in the energy mix, such as increasing renewable generation capacity (in particular wind power) will drive the need for additional reserve and frequency response to cater for the variability and intermittency of generation sources. It is therefore important for the System Operators to have access to additional tools and services provided by HVDC interconnectors to manage system frequency to minimise operating costs.  Reducing substantial curtailment   To meet its energy and climate targets, Ireland will require further interconnection to come onstream as quickly as possible, particularly in the context of the 2030 targets. Further interconnection must be prioritised as a vital part of Ireland’s overall energy solution; providing a route to market for offshore wind and solar, reducing curtailment costs associated with intermittent renewable energy sources, and allowing Ireland to become a net exporter of wind energy.   DECC’s latest target of an additional 7GW of offshore wind by 2030, on top of the planned 8GW of onshore wind by 2030, will result in substantial curtailment when there are medium to high levels of wind penetration.  TYNDP 2022 results for Irish interconnector projects demonstrate strong social economic welfare and decarbonization potential. Analysis carried out by our advisors indicates that interconnection plays a material role in reducing the curtailment of RES generation on those sunny, windy days. For example, in 2030 additional interconnector capacity of 750MW would half Ireland’s curtailment from 2TWh to 1TWh.  The reduction in RES curtailment is both a direct benefit to producers and specifically renewable generators as well as a benefit to consumers who gain from increased access to low-priced renewable generation.   Policy designed to attract private capital and protect consumers  Cap & Floor regulation is a viable route for development of future interconnection between Ireland and neighbouring countries. The regime is well defined, has been shown to be financeable by the equity and debt capital markets, and provides an appropriate balance between incentivising developer investment and protecting consumers. Cap & Floor has attracted private capital into the electricity transmission sector to invest in interconnector projects, often in excess of €500m, thereby freeing up state funds to invest in other parts of the economy.  Prioritisation of interconnector projects will require the investment of resource within the CRU and EirGrid, but when developed by private capital at zero upfront cost to the consumer and (subject to the appropriate scrutiny by the CRU) with a regulatory regime that protects consumers and bring significant social welfare benefits, there is an overwhelming case for prioritising these projects.   Address transition from PCI to PMI to avoid delay in securing new capacity for 2030  Since the United Kingdom exited the EU, interconnector projects between Ireland and Great Britain are no longer eligible for Project of Common Interest (PCI) status. PCI projects benefit from some minimum requirements for Member States to progress the projects as rapidly as legally possible and, importantly, are eligible for funding under the EU Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). Since May 2022, these projects can apply for Project of Mutual Interest (PMI) status which will apply substantially the same minimum requirements to these projects. PMI status will be granted in the sixth PCI list expected to be published by end 2023. MaresConnect strongly recommends that Ireland does not wait for PMI status to be granted to prioritise these projects. Moreover, this status sets minimum levels of support, and for Ireland to meet its goals it will need to put in place national policy over and above these minimum levels.   Allocation of resources to EirGrid and CRU to maintain momentum of existing projects  DECC can make a clear policy statement that further interconnection is required as a matter of urgency, and that the relevant government, regulatory and other administrative bodies should treat applications from interconnectors as a priority. This will allow those bodies to allocate the necessary resources and establish work plans to reflect this. In particular, DECC can send a clear signal to CRU that more interconnection is a key priority for addressing Ireland’s energy crisis and should be included in current and future work plans, with dedicated resource to progress projects as they arise.   The timely development of interconnector projects would benefit from regular monitoring by DECC and the CRU to ensure any obstacles are identified and addressed at an early stage. In the short term, the CRU can address key priorities by putting the resources in place to progress an application from mature interconnector projects and direct EirGrid to progress a connection application as a priority in the similar way that EirGrid has been directed to progress connection applications from any PCI interconnector project. This will ensure that developers are provided clear signals in terms of the administrative roadmap to ensure development projects reach operation by 2030.  Our detailed responses to the Consultation questions elaborate on these key messages and are set out in the schedule to this letter.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch should you wish to discuss any aspect of this response.  Yours sincerely Simon LudlamCEOMares Connect LimitedSchedule MaresConnect’s Response to Consultation Questions  Please see below our response to the questions set out in the Consultation, together with supporting evidence where appropriate.   Ireland’s increased energy ambition  To what extent would a commitment by Government on delivery of further interconnection capacity, beyond the proposed Celtic and Greenlink interconnectors, impact achievement of Ireland’s 2030 and post 2030 energy objectives?  Ireland’s increased energy ambition is consistent with meeting its decarbonisation targets and its aim to leverage the island’s plentiful renewable resources to become a leading exporter of green power. At the same time, Ireland has unique security of supply challenges which are succinctly summarised in the recently published Project Ireland 2040 National Marine Planning Framework: “Ireland’s all-island electricity system is characterised by its peripheral island location, small size, large generation sets relative to market size, and comparatively limited interconnection, as well as high and rising volumes of intermittent renewables generation. Reflecting these characteristics, and with the objective of bolstering market competition and security of supply, to the benefit of Irish electricity consumers, as well as transitioning to a low carbon energy future, Ireland’s energy policy emphasises the significant role to be played by enhanced electricity interconnection.” Further interconnection capacity is a valuable tool for addressing both security of supply and facilitate the integration of additional Renewable Energy Source (RES) generation. Taking each of these key points in turn:  Renewable Energy Source integration  The key changes for the electricity sector are expected to be in the way electricity is generated as mentioned above and how it is consumed. The dynamic operation of the transmission system is dependent on the type of generation connected to it, as well as the nature of demand. Some of the key impacts of these changes to the system are:  a reduction in system inertia and system strength;  a greater variability of power flows; and  the mechanisms to restore the system following a potential blackout.  The ability to deal with the impact of these changes is dependent on the range of products and services available to the Transmission System Operator and HVDC interconnectors provide sophisticated, robust tools such as frequency response and reserve; black start; and reactive power reserve for managing these changes to ensure economic, efficient and coordinated system operation.  Future changes in the energy mix, such as increasing renewable generation capacity (in particular wind power) will drive the need for additional reserve and frequency response to cater for the variability and intermittency of generation sources. It is therefore important for the System Operators to have access to additional tools and services to manage system frequency to minimise operating costs.  Curtailment reduction EirGrid’s Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios (TES) envisage total generation capacity to reach 12.8GW by 2030 [1]. This imbalance reflects the need to manage the intermittent nature of RES. On sunny, windy days Ireland’s generation satisfies local demand leaving a surplus to export or store. Conversely on still, cloudy days demand outstrips generation capacity requiring the import of electricity from Ireland’s neighbours through interconnectors, the release of storage or the despatch of fossil fuel generating units.   Analysis carried out by our advisors indicates that interconnection plays a material role in reducing the curtailment of RES generation on those sunny, windy days. For example, in 2030 additional interconnector capacity of 750MW [2] would halve Ireland’s curtailment from 2TWh to 1TWh.  The reduction in RES curtailment is both a direct benefit to producers and specifically renewable generators as well as a benefit to consumers who gain from increased access to low-priced renewable generation.   Realising Ireland’s export potential Ireland’s high-volume wind resource, particularly offshore, is now expected to reach 7GW by 2030 with the potential for further material increase as floating wind energy technology is deployed on Ireland’s west coast. Further interconnection will provide a direct route to GB and onwards to demand centres in northern Europe.  Access to liquid power markets outside of Ireland will optimise returns for domestic RES developers, maximise Government tax receipts as well as providing Irish consumers access to an abundant source of low marginal cost electricity.  In the context of Ireland’s increased climate and energy ambition, should Government establish future minimum interconnection targets, with capacity to be delivered by a specific point in time? If so, what should these targets be?  Interconnection targets set by the EU under the regulations for trans-European energy infrastructure [3] [4] and the report of the Commission Expert Group on electricity interconnection targets5 are important reference points in determining the future minimum interconnection targets for Member States. The EU has two meaningful targets which set a balance to meeting security of supply objectives without leading to the overbuild of capacity. The first is mandatory and the second a recommendation: 15% of Installed Generation Capacity (15% Generation Target): The European Council of October 2014 requires Member States to meet an electricity interconnection target of 15% of installed generation capacity by 2030 [6] [7].  Although Ireland now operates as a single electricity market (SEM), this test is applicable to the Member State and the calculation would exclude the Moyle interconnector (Northern Ireland to Scotland) and generation located in Northern Ireland. 30% of Renewable Installed Generation (30% RES Target): The EU Expert Group recommends that countries below the threshold of 30% of the ratio of its nominal transmission capacity to its installed renewable generation capacity “should urgently investigate options of further interconnectors”. The recommendation of the expert group reflects the penetration of intermittent renewable power in the energy mix and the need to ensure security of supply on days of low wind and solar production.  This test is not mandatory and the expert group recommends including interconnection with third countries to be considered as part of the calculation. It is therefore appropriate to make the calculation on the basis of SEM and all interconnectors including Moyle. EirGrid’s and Soni’s recent forecasts for Ireland’s mix of thermal and renewable generation (set out in its reports; Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios, 2019 and Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios Northern Ireland 2020, summarised in Table 1 below) provide a basis for determining if the tests are met, assuming Ireland will operate four interconnectors (Moyle, EWIC, Greenlink, Celtic and a further 750MW interconnector) by 2030. Table 1. European Interconnector Capacity Targets  Notes: Greenlink, Celtic and MaresConnect (or other new capacity) are assumed to commence operations before 2030. Moyle is assumed to remain at 250MW over all periods.Under EirGrid’s central cases of Centralised Energy (ROI) and Addressing Climate Change (NI) and including 750MW of new capacity from 2030 onwards, Ireland fails to meet either test under this scenario or any other TES scenarios.  The forecast growth in RES on the Irish system risks sending uneconomic pricing signals to wind and solar developers, raising the risk that RES project returns will be lower than forecast or worse, fail to materialise. In this context, it is crucial that Ireland progresses new interconnector capacity and takes immediate steps to support mature projects already in development to reduce curtailment costs and avoid RES developers taking projects to other jurisdictions. Regarding the location of future interconnection, should priority be given to developing further interconnection with Great Britain or the EU IEM, or both?Ireland’s geographical location limits the neighbours with which it can economically interconnect. To date the focus has been with Great Britain and latterly France. GB is a logical choice given its large generation base, some 10x that of Ireland’s, and its close proximity. Technically this provides interconnection with a diverse generation pool and low loss power transfers. GB is a natural steppingstone to give Irish RES access to the electricity markets in continental Europe and the Nordic countries.Ireland’s most recent projects; Greenlink and Celtic are both being constructed in a similar timeframe. A high-level comparison of the two projects suggest that careful thought needs to be given to the location of new projects and their economic cost to Irish consumers.Table 2. Comparison of key interconnector metrics between Greenlink and Celtic   France provides complimentary nuclear base load to Ireland’s intermittent RES and provides integration with another Member State. These advantages need to be set against the cost of Irish consumers shouldering 65% of the project’s high capital costs and power losses over the life of the project. The recent development of Cap & Floor regulation provides a framework for Ireland and the UK to attract private capital to invest in interconnector capacity thereby freeing up state funds to invest in other parts of the economy. Cap & Floor regulation stimulates the development of new projects by private developers rather than reliance on foreign transmission system operators who may have limited resources to develop numerous projects on different borders in parallel. The regulatory asset base model favoured by France provides a different risk model and transfers greater risk to consumers.  Regulated financial returns to the project owners are guaranteed under almost all circumstances.   GB support for further interconnectionOfgem has recently undertaken a lengthy review of the UK’s need for further interconnector capacity and concluded that now is the time to identify the next group of projects to connect with its neighbours. A third window opened on 1 September and closes on 31 October 2022 for projects to submit applications to be considered for Cap & Floor regulation. The last window was over six years ago and there is no guidance if there will be further windows in the future.As part of the review, Ofgem commissioned Afry, the economic consultant, to evaluate the need and location of further interconnection on all of GB’s borders. The draft report [8] identified the need for a further 1500MW on the Irish – GB border by 2030 over and above current planned projects to achieve net-zero targets in GB (see Table 3).Table 31. Extract from Afry December 2020 report The table above assumes Greenlink is included in the baseline and the additional projects are on the Irish – GB border only.Ofgem’s clear support of further interconnection with Ireland provides a near-term opportunity to develop further capacity within a favourable environment in the immediate future.What are the primary benefits associated with increased interconnector capacity? For instance, would the primary benefit relate to enhanced security of electricity supply or de-risking future renewables development?Increased interconnector capacity provides numerous benefits and to its host countries. For Ireland, additional capacity will provide substantial benefits, as outlined below;the risk of security of supply – potential risks to the supply of natural gas and associated gas-fired generation, variability of renewable generation, the ever-increasing electricity demand, and the age profile of the existing interconnectors, means further interconnection will be essential to ensure that a robust generation mix is in place towards the end of the decade.reduce curtailment costs – conversely when the wind output is high (anticipated 8GW onshore and 7GW offshore wind) the output will exceed the demand by some margin, so providing additional routes to markets will reduce substantial curtailment costs; andstimulate development of further RES – providing greater market capacity will stimulate the whole RES industry in terms of limiting forecast curtailments and constraints, and providing route to other markets. National legislation Is the existing legislative framework contained in the 1999 Act appropriate to secure future development of interconnector capacity?The existing legislative framework in the 1999 Act provides a robust legal basis required for securing future interconnector capacity, evidenced by the recent success of the Greenlink interconnector project reaching financial close. As a near-term project, MaresConnect does not propose any changes to the 1999 Act that would require new or amendments to primary legislation, as there are no legal impediments to making an application for regulatory support under the existing legislation and any amendments would take a long period of time to come into effect.If any amendments to primary legislation are made (including any amendments to facilitate hybrid interconnection), care should be taken to ensure that such amendments do not inadvertently cause delays to existing projects.In relation to EU legislation, we note that the introduction of PMI status will be implemented by way of a revision to the EU TEN-E Regulation and will automatically apply to Ireland, without needing to be transposed into national law. What amendments, if any, do you consider necessary to the 1999 Act?While MCL doesn’t propose any changes to the 1999 Act, as set out in this response, DECC and the CRU can utilise regulatory policy to promote and prioritise further interconnection to accelerate these projects which are crucial to meeting Ireland’s energy goals.There are a number of ways that DECC, and in turn CRU, policies could achieve this, including:   Planning and regulatory prioritization for interconnector projectsSending a clear policy direction to the CRU and planning authorities that further interconnection is required as a matter of urgency, and that applications from mature projects should be prioritised. This will allow those authorities to allocate the necessary resources to engage with the developers and progress applications as rapidly as legally possible when they are made. This may require adding further resources so that prioritisation of interconnection does not come at the cost of diverting resources from other vital energy goals, such as meeting the target of 7GW of offshore wind coming onstream by 2030. Ensure greater certainty of regulatory and planning timetablesDECC engaging regularly with the CRU to monitor the progression of interconnector projects through regulatory processes, including methods of prioritising these projects and target timescales for the relevant steps to obtain regulatory status and obtaining the consents required from the CRU for projects to reach final investment decision and commence construction.It is important for developers and NRAs to have clarity as to the expected timeframes for the regulatory processes in each connecting country so that human and financial resources can be efficiently deployed. The development of interconnector projects requires co-ordination between the multiple workstreams such as grid connections, planning and permitting, land acquisition, procurement of construction contracts, financing strategy and regulation. Uncertainties or undue delays in regulation can result in delays or suspension of other activities until greater certainty is obtained. A stop-start approach leads to cost and time inefficiencies which is contrary to the interests of consumers. Bridge the transition between PCI and PMI status Ensure near-term projects which are eligible for PMI status, and which are supported by Ireland in their applications for the same, are not delayed while waiting for that status to be granted at the EU level. For example, CRU could make a direction to EirGrid to progress grid connection applications from projects which are included in the then-current EU Ten Year Network Development Plan. Further detail in relation to PMI status and the requirement for a direction from the CRU to EirGrid to progress connection applications for non-PCI interconnector projects is discussed below. PMI statusGreat Britain is Ireland’s closest neighbour, with onward interconnection to the EU electricity markets. The introduction of PMI status will be positive for Ireland in recognising Ireland-GB projects at an EU level and making CEF funding available to those projects. However, there is a timing issue that projects which would otherwise have advanced more rapidly with the benefit of PCI (and now PMI) status, could be delayed due to a lack of prioritisation in regulatory and planning processes while waiting for the sixth PCI list to be released by the end of 2023.  It would be an opportunity missed if near-term mature projects which are included in TYNDP 2022, with positive TYNDP 2022 CBA results, and which are supported by DECC in their bid to obtain PMI status, are not supported within the Irish regulatory and permitting processes in the period prior to the receipt of PMI status simply because the revision of the TEN-E Regulation has lagged behind the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.For example, the CRU has directed EirGrid to process applications it receives for electricity interconnectors with PCI status [9]. The connection process can take approximately 9 months from the date EirGrid commences processing the application. If EirGrid were to wait until the next PCI list is released to process any new interconnector connection applications, this could result in a delay of 18-24 months to projects which are currently under development. To ensure that near term projects such as MaresConnect are not delayed as a result, MCL suggests that the CRU issues a further direction to EirGrid to engage with such projects to progress the key aspects of the connection (such as confirming the connection point, which is an important dependency for a substantial amount of development work). This would allow projects to progress in the period until PMI status is available and mitigate the impact of potential delays to the benefits of further interconnection coming onstream. This approach to progressing projects even in the absence of PCI/PMI status is consistent with the statements from DECC that “the absence of priority EU infrastructure status should not preclude project development” [10] and the European Commission that “it should be stressed that the candidate projects for interconnection for Great Britain and with Northern Ireland remain very relevant for the Irish electricity system and the Commission agrees with Ireland on the continued importance of the projects concerned, independently of their PCI status” [11].  Brexit and future EU-UK interconnectionTo what extent will the development of future interconnection between Ireland and Great Britain be impacted by the removal of Great Britain from European Market Coupling?Prior to Brexit, Ireland’s Moyle (2001) and EWIC (2012) interconnectors traded successfully for many years under an implicit auction mechanism lowering wholesale prices to Irish consumers. The introduction of day-ahead, intraday and balancing markets (market coupling) in 2018 resulted in price driven trade flows, rather than the historic pattern of interconnector trade which was not reflective of price signals under the old SEM model. The introduction of market coupling and the development of contacts for difference on neighbouring power exchanges led to improvements in the use of interconnector capacity by ~5% [12]. Importantly, this also led to improved price signalling to the broader Irish and GB markets and in turn to consumers.The UK’s decision to exit the Internal Energy Market and market coupling has resulted in a return to the trading mechanisms used prior to 2018. As expected, this has reduced the efficiency of electricity trading with GB’s neighbours including Ireland but only marginally as seen by the recent cost and benefit analysis carried out by ENTSO-E and GB TSOs. For example, the reduction in efficiency of GB – French links without any coupling mechanism is estimated to be less than 5%.The proposed Multi Region Loose Volume Market Coupling (MRLVMC) agreed in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and EU (TCA) is intended to be a close approximation to replace full market coupling [13] and will reduce inefficiencies further. The GB power industry and regulator are working closely with their European counterparts to meet the TCA deadlines to ensure the implementation of MRLVMC in the coming months. Despite the recent inefficiencies of power market trading following Brexit, there is confidence that an efficient trading system will be in place by the time Greenlink and subsequent GB-Irish interconnectors commence operations. To what extent will clarity over the future energy relationship between the EU and UK be necessary in order to provide for future interconnection between Ireland and Great Britain?In addition to the comments on MRLVMC made above, further consideration should be given to a new administrative pathway to develop interconnectors between EU member states and the UK. Most of the recent EU interconnector projects, including those with a GB leg, have been successfully developed as PCIs [14]. This status is now no longer available to projects connecting to Third Countries and these projects can no longer benefit from access to CEF funding and accelerated planning procedures. This may lead to a slowing of projects with Third Countries which will disproportionately impact Member States on the periphery of Europe, including Ireland.The EU has partially addressed this concern in Regulation (EU) 2022/869 [15] updating guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure. The EU recognises that “The Union should facilitate infrastructure projects linking the Union’s networks with third-country networks that are mutually beneficial and necessary for the energy transition and the achievement of the climate targets, and which also meet the specific criteria of the relevant infrastructure categories pursuant to this Regulation, in particular with neighbouring countries and with countries with which the Union has established specific energy cooperation.”As part of the Regulation, the EU establishes PMIs that can demonstrate significant net socioeconomic benefits at EU level and at least one Third Country. PMIs will have similar rights to PCIs, however the EU does not intend to develop a list of PMIs until the end of 2023, as discussed above.  This delay puts at risk existing projects just at a time when stimulus is required to accelerate the EU’s response to climate change.The Irish government could consider local incentives and planning measures with its UK counterpart to maintain the momentum of existing interconnector projects and bridge the gap between PCI and PMI. The role of the CRU Are the technical criteria employed by the CRU in assessing interconnector development applications appropriate?The CRU’s assessment criteria set out in the Policy for Interconnectors: Assessment Criteria for Electricity Interconnector Applications [16] are appropriate and fit for purpose. The criteria were used for the assessment of the Greenlink and Celtic interconnectors and MCL is supportive of the same criteria being used for future projects. MCL is supportive of the CRU’s approach to consider projects on a case-by-case basis, which is important for taking an agile approach to assessing projects as they arise. This is particularly important in a market where the demand for further interconnector capacity far exceeds the capacity of interconnectors under development (see Chart 1 above).While the criteria are appropriate, earlier engagement and assessment by the CRU could facilitate a more rapid development stage for interconnector projects, particularly those being developed by private investors. The CRU’s current policy aligns the section 2A 1999 Act maturity threshold with the threshold for a cross border cost allocation assessment (CBCA) under the TEN-E Regulation, which includes that permitting procedures should have started in each of the connecting countries. A public interest determination by the CRU at an earlier stage would provide private investors confidence that a regulatory pathway is available when making investment decisions and committing to large development costs (typically in excess of €30m for interconnector projects). This would encourage greater investment at an earlier stage, and ultimately more rapid development timescales.  De-risking the project at an earlier stage is even more important for Ireland-GB projects in the period prior to PMI status being implemented as those projects are not currently able to access CEF funding that would otherwise be available to fund 50% of eligible development costs.As the CRU undertakes a more detailed assessment at a later stage of development, as was the case for the Greenlink and Celtic interconnector projects, the CRU retains the ability to ensure that the final project is not materially different to the parameters assessed when the public interest test was undertaken. This is commensurate with the process in GB where an initial project assessment focuses on ensuring that the project is credible, being developed by a team and shareholder(s) with the requisite expertise, and with a credible project plan, budget and funding structure. A cost benefit analysis is undertaken at this stage based on a high-level cost assessment, which sets a benchmark for a detailed cost assessment at a later stage when costs are firm following a procurement process for the major construction contracts.The CRU took a similar two-stage approach to assessing the Greenlink project; (i) an initial assessment that the project was in the public interest for the purposes of section 2A of the 1999 Act, and (ii) a final decision at which point the project was granted Cap & Floor regulation on the basis of a detailed review of the project and its costs prior to financial close. The CRU could consider updating its policy to make the first assessment at an earlier stage (and in a similar timeframe as the connecting country review) to provide developers the regulatory certainty to proceed with development on the basis that a regulatory regime is available in both connecting countries subject to a final project assessment when the project is closer to final investment decision or financial close.This is also necessary for supporting regulatory processes in the connecting country. For example, in GB Ofgem requires evidence of sufficient maturity in the discussions between the project and the regulator and government in the connecting country to show that “the developer’s views on regulatory steps and milestones are aligned with the views of the relevant NRA and government in the connecting country, and that there is broad agreement between the developer and the connecting NRA and government on the key regulatory hurdles, project interdependencies, and timescales” [17]. Failure to engage with projects at an early stage creates a risk that those projects do not obtain initial project assessment (IPA) status with Ofgem. As Ofgem operates on the basis of opening set windows for receiving applications for Cap & Floor regulation, the third of which will be open from 1 September 2022 – 31 October 2022 (the previous window was in 2016, some 6 years ago), failure to obtain IPA status could result in developers delaying or even abandoning the project due to a lack of access to a regulatory route. On the other hand, early engagement with projects to meet the requirements in the connecting country maintains the option for the CRU to progress the project at the appropriate time.To facilitate the earlier engagement and assessment of projects, the CRU workplan could be updated to include, and indeed prioritise, the assessment of further interconnector projects. This would have the additional benefit of sending a price-signal to the offshore wind market and encourage deployment of development capital in offshore renewable energy projects as discussed above. What of the above three regulatory models offers the most viable route for development of future interconnection between Ireland and neighbouring countries?MCL supports Cap & Floor regulation as the most viable route for development of future interconnection between Ireland and neighbouring countries. The regime is well defined, has been shown to be financeable by the equity and debt capital markets, and provides an appropriate balance between incentivising developer investment and protecting consumers.Throughout 2019 and 2020, the CRU undertook a thorough process to assess the request by the Greenlink interconnector to introduce the Cap & Floor regime in Ireland and apply it to the project, considering the various regulatory models available. We refer to the CRU’s consultation paper on the regulatory regime to apply to the Greenlink interconnector [18] and its decision paper on the Cap & Floor regulatory treatment for Greenlink [19]. As the CRU noted in its consultation paper, the aim of the Cap & Floor regime is “to support efficient investment in electricity interconnectors by underpinning financeability, while retaining performance incentives and limiting consumer risk exposure” [20]. MCL agrees with the CRU’s conclusion that Cap & Floor offers “a suitable balance between providing incentives for interconnector operators to minimise cost and optimise performance providing protection from consumers for excess costs and excess returns; and a protection for debt-holders to ensure project financeability”.Based on publicly available information, MCL understands that EirGrid does not currently have plans for further interconnectors after Celtic in the 2030 timeframe. Accordingly, near term interconnector projects, particularly those that facilitate Ireland’s ambitions for 7GW of offshore wind by 2030, will necessarily be privately developed and funded. The Cap & Floor regime has been proven to bring forward private investment in electricity interconnection, first in GB and Belgium and now in Ireland through the Greenlink interconnector project. The Cap & Floor regime is well-tested and proven to be capable of supporting project financing (with both Greenlink in Ireland, and now NeuConnect which connects GB to Germany, reaching financial close in 2022). Privately developed interconnectors are financed by private capital, with construction costs funded by a combination of equity and non-recourse project financing; and do not require government or consumer funding to develop and build the interconnector. By contrast, in June 2022 the Irish government approved a package of measures to help mitigate the rising cost of electricity bills and to ensure secure supplies to electricity for households and business across Ireland over the coming years. This included an increased borrowing limit of €3 billion for EirGrid to strengthen the Irish national grid and to deliver the Celtic Interconnector. [21]For interconnectors connecting Ireland with GB, Cap & Floor is the default option and has now been implemented for Irish-GB projects. The Cap & Floor regime in Ireland and GB is based on a 50/50 split of costs and revenues between the two jurisdictions, which protects Irish consumers from bearing a disproportionate level of risk compared to the consumers in the connecting country. A cross border cost allocation which allocates benefits between the two connecting countries and allows for asymmetric regulation is less attractive for Ireland but may be required by the governments and regulators in other connecting countries, such as for the Celtic interconnector which is based on a 65/35 Ireland/France cost split [22] but a 50/50 split of revenues. General clarification on cross border cost allocationMCL would like to make a general point of clarification in relation to the statement in the Consultation that “There is also no legal basis for cost recovery via cross border allocations for projects absent PCI status” (page 10). MCL understands this to be a reference to the ability for PCI projects to make an application under Articles 12 and 13 of the TEN-E regulation for a determination on cross border allocation, which is an alternative to applying under national legislation. The Greenlink interconnector project, for example, obtained Cap & Floor regulation and its authorisation to construct (under section 16 of the 1999 Act) and licence to operate (under section 14 of the 1999 Act) without making an application under Articles 12 and 13 of the TEN-E Regulation. To avoid any misreading of this statement, MCL suggests that DECC clarifies this statement to confirm that there is no legal impediment for non-PCI projects making an application under the 1999 Act. Hybrid interconnectionTo what extent can dual purpose hybrid interconnectors contribute to Ireland’s post 2030 climate and energy objectives?MCL is supportive of DECC’s proactive approach in assessing the benefits of, and considering how best to support, dual purpose hybrid interconnector projects which may play a key role in achieving Ireland’s post 2030 climate and energy ambitions. What is the appropriate policy and regulatory framework to provide for development and operation of dual-purpose hybrid interconnectors?The development of multi purpose interconnectors (MPI) has been discussed and consulted on at some length by Ofgem over the last 10 years. To date this has not led to a clear policy or regulation on the treatment of MPI revenues and costs due to the complexity of assessing an appropriate regulatory model.  Ofgem’s third window anticipates a TSO sponsored MPI with a member state will come forward as a pilot project for evaluation which may lead to a successful regulatory model going forward.  The broader market will review and comment as the project develops and this may provide a suitable proxy for Ireland, however many market commentators consider it is premature to define a policy framework today until the pilot project has been more fully assessed.The development of regulatory frameworks for MPIs are expected to take time to establish and require significant allocation of NRA resources to develop a model fit for purpose.  Given Ireland’s immediate energy challenges, CRU resources may be better channelled into developing additional point-to-point interconnector capacity to meet 2030 targets while maintaining a watching brief on the development of MPIs in the North Sea for implementation in the post 2030 period.______________________________________________________[1] The Irish government’s target for offshore capacity by 2030 has recently been increased from 5GW to 7GW[2] Greenlink and Celtic are assumed to be operational by 2030.  A further 750MW relates to additional capacity over and above that provided by Greenlink and Celtic.[3] Regulation (EU) No 347/2013[4] Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 addressing the Energy Union and Climate Action with regard to the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU[5] Towards a sustainable and integrated Europe Report of the Commission Expert Group on electricity interconnection targets, November 2017[6] Defined as import capacity over installed generation capacity in a Member State “for projects with significant cross-border impact, the impact on grid transfer capability at borders between relevant Member States, between relevant Member States and third countries “– Annex IV of Regulation (EU) No 347/2013[7] European Council (23 and 24 October 2014) ‒ Conclusions[8] Ofgem interconnector policy review – independent report, An AFRY report for Ofgem, December 2020[9] CRU Information Note CRU/17/300 published 24 October 2017[10] Footnote 19, Section 11.3.4 of the DECC Climate Action Plan published by DECC in 2021[11] European Commission Staff Working Document published on 19 November 2021 which can be found at https://energy.ec.europa.eu/system/files/2021-11/fifth_pci_list_19_november_2021_swd.pdf[12] The Value of international electricity trading G. Castagneto Gissey, B. Guo, D. Newbery, G. Lipman, L. Montoya, P. Dodds, M. Grubb, P. Ekins, May 2019[13] Consultation on the proposed approach to costs for the multi-region loose volume coupling trading arrangements under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, Ofgem May 2021[14] Regulation (EU) No 347/2013[15] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32022R0869[16] CRU/18/221 published 27 September 2018[17] ‘Application Guidance for the Third Cap and Floor Window for Electricity Interconnectors’ published by Ofgem 7 July 2022. Refer to Appendix 1, paragraph 1.1.4. Guidance can be found at https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/2022-07/ApplicationGuidance_ThirdWindow.pdf[18] CRU20042 published on 26 March 2020[19] CRU20171 published on 18 December 2020[20] CRU20042 published on 26 March 2020[21] https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/5d9bc-government-announces-package-of-measures-to-secure-electricity-supplies-into-the-future-and-to-help-mitigate-rising-household-electricity-bills/[22] CRU decision on Celtic Electricity Interconnector EirGrid Regulatory Framework Request (CRU202213) published 11 February 2022 [...] Read more...
July 6, 2022Dublin, 06 July 2022 – Ofgem’s licence grants MaresConnect the right to own and operate an electricity interconnector project in the UK and provides certain associated powers as a statutory undertaker.MaresConnect is a proposed 750MW electricity interconnector linking the power markets of Ireland and Great Britain¹. The cable route is approximately 245km underground and under the sea between Dublin in Ireland and Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire in Wales.  As part of Europe’s 2022 Ten Year Network Development Plan (“TYNDP”)², MaresConnect is considered one of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects that will form part of a system that is secure, sustainable and affordable, and that integrates Ireland’s abundant renewable energy resources, thereby offering an essential contribution to the European Green Deal³.As part of the UK government’s energy policy to secure 18GW of electricity interconnector capacity by 20304, Ofgem will invite new interconnector projects to apply for Cap & Floor regulation in a third window over the summer.  Earlier this month the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications launched a consultation on Ireland’s electricity interconnector policy to address Ireland’s increased climate and energy ambitions5. Simon Ludlam, CEO of MaresConnect, said; “securing an interconnector licence is an important step for us to position the project for its application for Ofgem’s third Cap & Floor window and to advance our route planning strategy and engagement with community stakeholders. MaresConnect will increase interconnector capacity between Ireland and GB by 50% and make a material contribution to Ireland achieving its 2030 environmental targets as well as providing a cost-efficient export route for Ireland’s growing offshore wind sector.”  MaresConnect secured a 750MW grid connection at National Grid’s Bodelwyddan substation in 2018 and procurement for the major onshore survey contracts is currently under way. Following the current development, the project is expected to have a three-year construction programme leading to operations in 2027.MaresConnect is being developed by Foresight Group’s6 energy transition fund, Foresight Energy Infrastructure Partners, and Etchea Energy7.ENDS  CONTACT FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES:MaresConnect:Deborah Gianinetti: deborah.gianinetti@maresconnect.ie / +44 (0)7932 811 594Foresight Group:Robert Woolley: rwoolley@foresightgroup.eu / +44 (0) 7557 885 044 Notes to Editors:MaresConnect is a proposed 750MW, subsea and underground cable interconnector (with associated converter stations) between the existing electricity grids in Ireland and Great Britain, operated respectively by EirGrid and National Grid Electricity Transmission. The project will link Dublin (Ireland) and Bodelwyddan transmission substation in Denbighshire (Wales). Further details can be found at the project’s website: www.maresconnect.ieMaresConnect has been recognised as a TYNDP 2022 project by ENTSO-E following support received from both the Irish and UK governments.European Green Deal – https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_enThe Energy White Paper, Powering our Net Zero Future, prepared by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, December 2020. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/945899/201216_BEIS_EWP_Command_Paper_Accessible.pdfElectricity Interconnection Policy – Technical Consultation, prepared by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, 10 June 2022https://www.gov.ie/en/consultation/ca3b4-electricity-interconnector-policy-technical-consultation/6. Foresight Group was founded in 1984 and is a leading listed infrastructure and private equity investment manager. With a long-established focus on ESG and sustainability-led strategies, it aims to provide attractive returns to its institutional and private investors from hard-to-access private markets. Foresight manages over 300 infrastructure assets with a focus on solar and onshore wind assets, bioenergy and waste, as well as renewable energy enabling projects, energy efficiency management solutions, social and core infrastructure projects and sustainable forestry assets. Its private equity team manages ten regionally focused investment funds across the UK and an SME impact fund supporting Irish SMEs. This team reviews over 2,500 business plans each year and currently supports more than 200 investments in SMEs. Foresight Capital Management manages four strategies across six investment vehicles with an AUM of over £1.6 billion.Foresight operates from 12 offices across six countries in Europe and Australia with AUM of £9 billion as at 13 June 2022*. Foresight Group Holdings Limited listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange in February 2021. https://www.fsg-investors.com *Unaudited Assets Under Management, as at 13 June 2022.7. Etchea Energy Partners LLP, based in London and Dublin, is a leading project development firm in the energy sector.  Etchea Energy provides the core management team to MaresConnect and leverages its broad experience in developing interconnectors in Northwest Europe. [...] Read more...
June 20, 2022MaresConnect welcomes the publication on 10 June 2022 by the Department of the Environment, Climate & Communications (DECC) on Electricity Interconnection Policy.  The consultation paper focuses on interconnection between Ireland and the EU and Great Britain, and is a key action coming out of Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2021 (CAP21). CAP21 builds on Ireland’s 2020 Programme for Government which sets out a commitment to strengthen the existing policy framework for electricity interconnection to incentivise further interconnection and to commence planning for future interconnection with neighbouring countries.  In the consultation paper DECC recognises Ireland’s increased energy ambitions, in particular a target that up to 80% of Irish electricity consumption will originate from renewable sources by 2030, with 5GW of installed offshore wind capacity, up to 2.5GW of grid scale solar and up to 5GW of onshore wind. DECC is seeking stakeholder views regarding the potential contribution of increased interconnection towards meeting Ireland’s 2030 and post 2030 climate and energy objectives.  Further interconnection capacity with its neighbours will address Ireland’s pressing challenges of ensuring security of electricity supply and avoiding  costly curtailment of further renewable resources, in particular, onshore and offshore wind. The consultation paper can be found here. The closing date for submissions is 5:30pm 10 August 2022. Submissions can be sent by email to SMBX.OffshoreWind@decc.gov.ie.   #interconnection #energysecurity #renewables #netzero [...] Read more...
May 11, 2022  London, 11 May 2022• Funding secured for the project’s development to position MaresConnect as Ireland’s next interconnector• MaresConnect will make a major contribution to achieving Ireland’s 2030 environmental goalsForesight Group Holdings Limited¹, the listed sustainability-led infrastructure and private equity investment manager, has acquired a majority stake in the MaresConnect² interconnector project (“MaresConnect”), through its energy transition fund, Foresight Energy Infrastructure Partners (“FEIP”). Etchea Energy Nominees Limited³ (“Etchea Energy”) will retain the remaining shareholding. The shareholders will work together to complete the development of MaresConnect through to financial close and the start of construction at end 2024.MaresConnect is a proposed 750MW electricity interconnector linking the power markets of Ireland and Great Britain4. The cable route is approximately 245km in length and will run underground and under the sea between Dublin in Ireland and Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire in Wales. As part of Europe’s 2022 Ten Year Network Development Plan5 (“TYNDP”), MaresConnect is considered one of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects that will form part of a system that is secure, sustainable and affordable, and that integrates Ireland’s renewable energy, thereby offering an essential contribution to the European Green Deal.Simon Ludlam, partner at Etchea Energy and CEO of MaresConnect, said; “We are delighted to welcome Foresight, a well-established and respected infrastructure investor, into the MaresConnect project and look forward to working toward realising the benefits for consumers, energy security and regional jobs and investment in Ireland and Wales. MaresConnect will increase interconnector capacity between Ireland and GB by 50% and make a material contribution to Ireland achieving its 2030 environmental targets as well as providing a cost-efficient export route for Ireland’s growing offshore wind sector.”Richard Thompson, Co-Manager of FEIP and Foresight Partner commented: “This investment represents another very exciting development for both Foresight and FEIP, which is seeking investments into infrastructure that will accelerate the energy transition. Given recent geopolitical events, the economic and social case for increased levels of interconnection has become even more compelling, enhancing European energy security, reducing power prices for consumers and accommodating more renewable energy on the system. We believe this asset will play a pivotal role in the transmission of clean energy between Ireland and Great Britain and are very much looking forward to working with the experienced management team to oversee its development.”MaresConnect secured a 750MW grid connection at National Grid’s Bodelwyddan substation in 2018 and procurement for the major onshore survey contracts is currently under way. The project will apply for cap & floor regulation in the UK under Ofgem’s third window which is scheduled to open over the summer. The project is expected to have a three-year construction programme leading to operations in 2027.ENDS CONTACT FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES:Etchea Energy:Deborah Gianinetti: deborah.gianinetti@etchea-energy.com / +44 (0)7932 811 594Foresight:Robert Woolley: rwoolley@foresightgroup.eu / +44 20 3763 6974Citigate (public relations adviser to Foresight):Caroline Merrell: caroline.merrell@citigatedewerogerson.com / +44 (0) 7852 210 329Toby Moore: toby.moore@citigatedewerogerson.com / +44 (0) 7768 981 763MaresConnect:info@maresconnect.ie / +353 1 913 1245Notes to Editors:Foresight Group was founded in 1984 and is a leading listed infrastructure and private equity investment manager. With a long-established focus on ESG and sustainability-led strategies, it aims to provide attractive returns to its institutional and private investors from hard-to-access private markets. Foresight manages over 300 infrastructure assets with a focus on solar and onshore wind assets, bioenergy and waste, as well as renewable energy enabling projects, energy efficiency management solutions, social and core infrastructure projects and sustainable forestry assets. Its private equity team manages eight regionally focused investment funds across the UK and a SME impact fund supporting Irish SMEs. This team reviews close to 2,500 business plans each year and currently supports more than 130 SMEs. Foresight Capital Management manages four strategies across six investment vehicles with an AUM of over £1.6 billion.Foresight operates from 12 offices across six countries in Europe and Australia with AUM of £8.7 billion as at 31 March 2022. Foresight Group Holdings Limited listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange in February 2021 https://www.fsg-investors.com/The Foresight investment is in MaresConnect Holdings Limited, which is a holding company for MaresConnect Limited.Etchea Energy Partners LLP, based in London and Dublin, is a leading project development firm in the energy sector. Etchea Energy will provide the core management team to MaresConnect and leverage its broad experience in developing interconnectors in Northwest Europe.MaresConnect is a proposed 750MW, subsea and underground cable interconnector (with associated converter stations) between the existing electricity grids in Ireland and Great Britain, operated respectively by EirGrid and National Grid Electricity Transmission. The project will link the Maynooth substation near Dublin (Ireland) and Bodelwyddan transmission substation in Denbighshire (Wales). Further details can be found at the project’s website: www.maresconnect.ieMaresConnect has been recognised as a TYNDP 2022 project by ENTSO-E following support received from both the Irish and UK governments. [...] Read more...