Electricity demand across the island of Ireland is growing, according to a new report from EirGrid Group.
The “Generation Capacity Statement 2017 - 2026” predicts growth in demand of 17% on the island over the coming 10 years. This contrasts with a fall in demand at the start of the decade in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and flat demand in recent years following the economic recession.
In Ireland, total electricity demand over the next ten years is forecast to grow by 21%, largely driven by new large users such as data centres. In Northern Ireland, growth is more modest, with a likely increase of 3%.
The report provides low, median and high electricity demand forecasts for both Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Fintan Slye, chief executive of EirGrid Group, said: “The return to growth in demand underlines the need for a secure electricity supply to support economic investment in Ireland and Northern Ireland in the future.”
In Northern Ireland, a significant amount of electricity generation is due to decommission or be restricted due to emissions legislation. The report found that this situation would be relieved by the proposed North South Interconnector.
However, it also found that without the interconnector, it will not be possible to share enough capacity from Ireland to address the security of supply issue facing Northern Ireland from 2021 onwards.
The new report also highlights forthcoming changes to capacity payments that will occur following the introduction of the new Integrated Single Electricity Market (I-SEM) in 2018.
Under the current arrangements, all available generators benefit from capacity payments. In the future, such payments will only be made to generators who are successful in the new Capacity Market.
Mr Slye added: “It is possible that some generators that fail to secure capacity payments may not be commercially viable. This future uncertainty makes it more difficult to predict how the portfolio of generators across the island will evolve.”
The Generation Capacity Statement is available to download here.