At EirGrid, one of our roles is to plan the development of the electricity transmission grid to meet the future needs of society. Key to this process is considering the range of possible ways that energy usage may change in the period from 2017 out to 2040. We call this scenario planning.
In 2017 EirGrid introduced scenario planning as a way of developing the electricity grid so that it continues to support Ireland's economic growth and expanding population in the face of an uncertain future.
In August 2018, EirGrid launched the Tomorrow's Energy Scenarios 2017 Locations Report.
The report was based upon a consultation carried out between April 2018 and May 2018 called the Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios 2017 Locations Consultation.
The report proposes assumptions about where various demand, generation, storage and interconnection technologies may connect in the future. Modelling future locations in this way enables us to identify potential areas of stress on the network requiring further investigation.
We have used Ireland’s regions to present our locations. Specifically, we have taken electricity demand, electricity supply and interconnection figures presented in the first report, Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios 2017, and disaggregated these by region.
Tomorrow's Energy Scenarios 2017
The first report in our scenario planning cycle, Tomorrow's Energy Scenarios 2017, was published in July 2017 and outlined four different energy scenarios out to 2040. The four scenarios take into account uncertainties regarding future demand for electricity, and the technology used to generate that electricity.
Renewable electricity generation maintains a steady pace of growth. This is due to steady improvements in the economy, and in the technologies which generate electricity. New household technologies help to make electricity consumers more energy aware. This increases energy efficiency in homes and businesses. Over time, electricity consumers gradually begin to make greater use of electric vehicles and heat pumps. This means that, over time, electricity powers a larger proportion of transportation and heating.
The economy experiences very slow growth. Investment in new renewable generation is only in established, low risk technologies. Due to poor economic growth, new technologies that could increase the use of renewable generation at household and large scale levels are not adopted. Overall there is little change in the way electricity is generated when compared to today. Domestic consumers and commercial users are also avoiding risk and uncertainty. The only source of demand growth is the connection of new data centres but the level of investment slows down significantly after 2025.
The economy enjoys high economic growth. This encourages the creation and rollout of new technologies for low carbon electricity generation. There is strong public demand to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to high carbon prices and incentives for renewables, this creates a high level of renewable generation on the grid. This clean energy then combines with improvements to broadband and transport to drive growth in large data centres.
A strong economy leads to high levels of consumer spending ability. The public want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Electricity consumers enthusiastically limit their energy use and generate their own energy. This results in a large number of community led energy projects and a rapid adoption of electric vehicles and heat pumps in the home.
We take a cyclic approach to scenario development. Involving our stakeholders in the development cycle helps us to continuously improve our scenarios.
The Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios 2017 Locations Report is phase four of the current development cycle and has been finalised using feedback received as part of the Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios 2017 Locations Consultation.
The Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios 2017 System Needs Assessment Report will conclude the current scenario development cycle. This report will identify any future needs on the transmission system brought about by changes in electricity generation, demand, storage or interconnection.
Our scenario development cycle will begin again in Spring 2019 starting with a consultation on our scenario storylines, portfolios and locations. We look forward to engaging with our stakeholders throughout our Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios 2019 scenario development process.