Electricity demand across the island of Ireland is continuing to grow, according to a new report from EirGrid and SONI.
The All-Island Generation Capacity Statement (GCS) examines the likely balance between electricity demand and supply during the years 2020 to 2029.
In preparing the report, the two grid operators on the island, EirGrid in Ireland and SONI in Northern Ireland, consulted widely with industry participants and used the most up-to-date information.
In Ireland, total electricity demand over the next ten years is forecast to grow by between 19% and 50%, largely driven by new large users, many of which are data centres. The analysis shows that data centres and large energy users could account for approximately 27% of all electricity demand in Ireland by 2028.
In Northern Ireland, demand is relatively flat with the report’s median scenario showing an increase of 4% over the next 10 years. The report provides low, median and high electricity demand forecasts for both Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Mark Foley, chief executive of EirGrid Group, said: “Demand in Ireland is continuing to increase and is forecast to continue. With this increase in demand, and the expected decommissioning of generation plant due to decarbonisation targets and emissions standards, it is expected that new generation will be required.”
He added: “However, it is important to factor in the ongoing effects of Covid-19. The pandemic has had a significant real-time impact on electricity demand to date. While there have been signs that the impact may be short term, it is still too early to determine its effect and how long it may be felt.”
The GCS sets out how much progress has been made towards meeting Ireland and Northern Ireland targets for renewable energy. EirGrid and SONI are supporting the integration of more intermittent generation sources with initiatives that enable the power system to operate with up to 70% variable renewable energy.
In Ireland, the report assumes that ESB Moneypoint in County Clare will not be available from the end of 2025 and there is a capacity deficit forecasted from 2026 in the median scenario. This will be addressed by the Single Electricity Market Capacity Auction process through which it is expected that new, sustainable generation will be procured.
The North South Interconnector remains critically needed for security of supply in both jurisdictions. As this report outlines, generation adequacy shifts year-on-year, according to demand. While the recent Single Electricity Market’s (SEM) Capacity Auction process saw enough capacity secured to ensure near-term security of supply, the North South Interconnector, as with existing interconnection to Great Britain remains absolutely vital for the medium to long-term.