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No Turf: warning of electricity shortage due to closure of peat stations and low wind  

Controversy around the abrupt retirement of peat power stations ahead of schedule continues as another amber alert on electricity shortages has been issued, with outages threatened because of low winds and the absence of supply from the turf stations as two of the main factors. 

The Single Electricity Market Operator has warned that the shortfall of power that could lead to blackouts is arising because of the retirement of the peat power stations, as well as low wind expected for renewable energy, unexpected outages at two stations, and a delay in maintenance duer to Covid.

Green policies pushed Bord na Móna to close peat stations earlier than expected, causing anger and upset in the Midlands as workers lost their jobs overnight. It then transpired that peat briquettes were subsequently being imported to Ireland from Germany and Estonia to make up the shortage in fuel .

The new focus and reliance on wind energy faces the obvious obstacle that low wind can severely reduce output, causing serious issues with reliability, and adding to the likelihood of energy outages that would leave households and businesses without power.

The Business Post reported that “in the past 15 months the Single Electricity Market Operator (Semo) has issued seven system alerts to warn of capacity shortages on the electricity grid, compared with just 11 alerts over the previous 10 years”.

“System alerts typically occur during the winter months when electricity demand is highest but there were two issued in spring of this year, while this further alert so early in September has raised concerns that Ireland’s electricity infrastructure is straining under the pressure of growing demand,” the paper said.

Semo said Monday that the amber alert was issued due to “a generation shortfall in Ireland”, and that electricity margins would be extremely tight until further notice.

This means that all available electricity generators are being asked to make their power assets available, while “certain large energy users” are asked to reduce the electricity they are using.

Carol Nolan TD, who has spoken for large numbers of workers devastated at the early closure of the Bord na Mona plants and peat harvesting works, said that the spike in amber alerts should lead to the rush to Green energy being questioned.

“It is becoming absolutely clear that the energy policy being pursued by this government is largely ideologically-driven nonsense that is incapable of delivering vital supply continuity. We are almost literally being led down a dark alley. Someone in the government needs to develop a spine and call out this dangerous approach,” she said.

“We also need to radically reassess what I have previously termed the creeping criminalisation of turf and peat use and specifically the premature decision to rule out peat fired energy sources as part of the overall mix of energy policy. “

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