Andrew Eviston, PSC Power System Consultant, Ireland
ESB Networks who manages the construction and maintenance of Ireland’s electricity transmission system, recently announced its “National Network, Local Connections Programme.” This is part of the €4+bn network investment program to 2025, transforming how energy on Ireland’s electricity network is managed and consumed locally by customers and communities across the country.
Ireland’s renewable situation
Even with a 9% drop in Ireland’s energy consumption in 2020, mainly due to reducing vehicles and plans in transit during the pandemic, Ireland will not meet its 2020 emission reduction target. Ireland remains under pressure to ensure they reach the EU’s 2030 directive requirements that push for a reduction target of at least 55% from 1990 levels.
Further, Ireland’s new Climate Action Bill commits the country to becoming carbon neutral by 2050 and contains provisions for legally binding emissions targets by introducing a five-year ‘carbon budgets’ proposal.
ESB helping to decarbonize Ireland’s power network
ESB is collaborating with industry players and the public to create the optimal roadmap to ultimately benefit electricity consumers and the environment in the long run. What differentiates ESB’s plan from others is its focus on how individuals consume energy, not just on large-scale generators. ESB predicts that customers and communities across Ireland will become more active in managing and controlling their own electricity usage in the new energy landscape. So, it follows that ESB needs to ensure that the grid systems can continue to monitor, forecast and manage power at a more local level.
Examples of the work ESB are doing to help achieve these goals are as follows:
- Smart metering: this gives the consumer the knowledge of how much electricity they are using and allows them to manage that usage.
- Local storage of generation: this allows consumers to locally store electricity, either for self-consumption or to be exported back into the grid.
- Renewable generation technology: installation of roof-mounted solar PV, heat pumps and an increase in the number of electric vehicles.
The multi-year, multi-million euro transformative plan provides the first step to collaboration across the energy sector to create new opportunities for customers to use and store electricity locally in a way that makes the best use of renewable energy sources. ESB is working with organizations and stakeholders across the board – from emerging energy companies to consumers and others. This collaboration is key to implementing evolving technologies, products, and services coming on stream, such as solar panels, heat pumps, electric vehicles, and the smart electricity plans and products facilitated by the National Smart Metering Programme.
ESB’s investment program is planned to run until 2025 and help create new opportunities for customers to engage in renewable generation across their communities. It will give customers the power to manage their energy costs as well as drive down their carbon footprint.
EirGrid and SONI’s support of decarbonization policies
Like ESB, EirGrid and SONI – the grid operators for Ireland and Northern Ireland – announced earlier this year their plan to install €2bn worth of new electricity equipment across communities and the countryside over the next 10 years. This varies from new electricity pylons, cables, substations and converter stations. With electricity demand due to increase by 50% by 2030 because of growth in population and industry and the switch-over from fossil fuels to electric heating and electric vehicles, EirGrid like ESB, has a plan to help Ireland reach the 2030 EU directive target. Read more about it here (PDF).
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