Dáil debates

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Energy Policy

9:50 am

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I read out similar written responses previously, so I will address the question directly, if I may. In regard to blackouts this winter, a variety of factors have led to the difficult and tight circumstances we are in. As the Deputy noted, there were two amber alerts last week, which occur when the power is less than something like 400 MW or 500 MW. If another large plant came down, we might have to shed loads, which is when an amber alert would occur. We are in these circumstances for a variety of reasons, including increasing demand, but the main one is that many older plants are not performing as efficiently as a new plant would. There is a good deal of old, conventional plant, some of which has had to undergo regular maintenance this year, and that has been affected by Covid. During that period of Covid, we could not bring in skilled expertise from outside to carry out maintenance, so we had to delay it, and as a result much of our plant is out for maintenance or has had maintenance difficulties.

At the same time, two large gas-fired power plants, which are two of our most modern and best plants, by circumstance had major technical problems that took almost a year in each case to fix. The good news is that both look as though they will be back in operation this autumn, and that should see us through this winter period. Nothing is certain, but we are increasingly confident that we will not have to experience blackouts this winter. The underlying challenge is still there. As I said, we have 2 GW of older plant, at the likes of Moneypoint and Tarbert, which, along with Edenderry, are typically higher emission plants we need to switch away from. They will play a critical role in the next three to five years in providing the security we need, but we need to get back-up alternative generation, such as battery storage, open-cycle gas plants, which are very quick and switch on and off quickly. They will not run a great deal but will be critical to provide power at those moments when the wind is not blowing and while we wait for those interconnectors and a more balanced system to be delivered.


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