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All I want for christmas….is a diesel generator

The author is a senior executive working in the energy sector in Ireland whose identity is known to Gript. We have agreed to provide him anonymity so that he can speak freely.

As our inexorable march towards an all wind and solar electricity system gathers pace the island of Ireland is careering towards a winter of discontent when it comes to our electricity supply. It may have escaped your attention but our incessant desire to become “climate leaders” has led us down a path where we are in real danger of having blackouts this winter if wind energy does not show up to the party.

Eirgrid and the energy regulator (CRU) are so concerned in fact that they are fast tracking 200MW of power plants at a cost of over €100m to cover the shortfall. If you had read my previous piece you know who is going to pick up the bill for this  – the down trodden customer. You may think that this is sensational but in my interactions with Eirgrid engineers on the ground they are extremely anxious and have admitted privately that if we get hit with a high pressure cold snap this winter our system will be exposed and customers will experience blackouts. The euphemistic phrase is “load shedding” and anyone who has been to 3rd world countries will know what this means. Essentially there is too much demand and not enough supply in certain areas so the power is turned off to prevent catastrophic collapses of the system. This is dire for the ordinary citizen and we have green tinged policy makers to blame for it.

How did we arrive at this? 20 years of incentivising the build out of wind farms while simultaneously decommissioning or de-incentivising steady state base load fossil fuel generators such as Huntstown gas power plant is the short answer. Throw in the huge growth of power hungry data centres and it compounds the problem. Like in so many fields our quest to be the best pupil in Europe may have got the better of us.

Make no mistake, Eirgrid are extremely worried about the near and medium term. With the state’s biggest fossil fuel stations in Moneypoint and Tarbert due to be wound down in the coming years we are increasingly exposing our network to the whims of the weather. The critical issue of renewables not being reliable is going to cause untold damage to every citizen and business in this country if we do not change tact. Put simply you cannot run a power grid of a small island nation dominated by a technology that you can’t call upon when needed.

The renewable industry’s only solution to all this? More renewables. They’re lobbying hard to speed up the procurement of 2000MW of new generation under the upcoming RESS 2 government support scheme which will further weaken and destabilise the grid and cause massive price volatility in the electricity market. Again the customer will pay for all this. Staring down the barrel of inflation and COVID triggered recessions the poorest will be hit hardest in the coming years.

The green revolution is great in theory, but it will come at a terrible price. When the grid fails I envisage the finger pointing Olympics will begin with Eirgrid, the CRU, ESB, big tech, and the wind industry looking to avoid blame or accountability.

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