EirGrid Predicts Continued Growth in Electricity Demand

24 September 2019

Electricity demand across the island of Ireland is continuing to grow, according to a new report from EirGrid Group. The All-Island Generation Capacity Statement (GCS) examines the likely balance between electricity demand and supply during the years 2019 to 2028. 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. A range of scenarios was prepared to forecast electricity demand over the time horizon of the report.

In Ireland, total electricity demand over the next ten years is forecast to grow by between 25% and 47%, largely driven by new large users, many of which are data centres. EirGrid Group’s analysis shows that data centres and large energy users could account for approximately 29% of all electricity demand in Ireland by 2028.

In Northern Ireland, demand is relatively flat with the median scenario showing an increase of 10% over the next 10 years. The report provides low,median and high electricity demand forecasts for both Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The report identifies the decommissioning of older electricity generators due to de-carbonisation targets as another challenge to the sector. It is assumed that ESB Moneypoint in County Clare will not be available from the end of 2025 and there are capacity deficits forecasted from 2026. This will be addressed by the Single Electricity Market Capacity Auction process through which it is expected that new, sustainable generation will be procured.

Mark Foley, chief executive of EirGrid Group, said: “Demand in Ireland is increasing and is forecast to increase significantly, due to the expected expansion of many large energy users. 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.”

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 65% variable renewable energy.

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.

The All-Island Generation Capacity Statement 2019 – 2028

SONI, the transmission system operator (TSO) in Northern Ireland, is required by licence to produce an
annual Generation Capacity Statement. Similarly, EirGrid, the TSO in Ireland, has a regulatory requirement to publish forecast information about the power system, including an assessment of the balance between supply and demand.

A range of scenarios was prepared to forecast electricity demand over the time horizon of the report. In our adequacy assessment studies, we modelled the generation portfolio against the demand forecast, using the accepted standard risk. These studies were carried out separately for Ireland and Northern Ireland, and jointly on an all-island basis.

The Generation Capacity Statement is available to download here.