Plans to prevent electricity blackouts this winter abandoned

The government’s plans to prevent rolling electricity outages from green energy policies this winter have been abandoned, meaning Ireland is very likely facing blackouts this winter.

EirGrid – the state-owned electric power grid company – has said that they have canceled plans to have the ESB import and rent 200 megawatts worth of emergency gas generators over the winter.

According to the Business Post, Tynagh Energy, a British company, took a High Court challenge saying that Eirgrid’s procurement process was anti-competitive, and securing the generators and mandatory environmental licenses before the winter would have proved challenging.

The plans, which would have cost €130 million to implement, were initially signed off on in June of this year by Climate Minister Eamon Ryan, who said there was a “likely threat” to the country’s power supplies later in the year, describing the situation as “deeply concerning” and one of “the most important issues” that must be tackled by the government.

Now the country will likely be facing rolling blackouts as the national grid strains to accomodate more people using heating in the winter months.

The number of “system alerts” indicating that the grid may go down have increased dramatically in the past year due to the government’s shutting down of fossil fuel power stations and the country becoming increasingly dependent on green alternatives which can be unreliable.

For scale, in the past 12 months, there have been 6 system alerts on the grid. In the entire decade before, there were only 11.

Contributing factors to the power shortage include dependence on unreliable green energy sources, the shutting down of “pristine” power stations to meet climate targets, and increased electricity demand from FDI data centres.

According to the Business Post and MaREI, an energy and climate research centre from Cork, if all proposed data centres are connected to the Irish grid, Ireland’s climate goals of 51% emission reduction by 2030 will be impossible to meet.

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