EirGrid forecasts lower potential for system alerts in coming months as Winter Outlook published

EirGrid, the Transmission Service Operator for Ireland, has indicated that there is a lower risk for system alerts in the coming months, compared to what was anticipated last year, as the Winter Outlook for 23/24 is published.

The Winter Outlook helps to inform the electricity industry and supports preparation for the coming months. It covers the period from 30 October 2023 to 31 March 2024.

EirGrid studies the expected generation capacity and the forecast electricity demand to determine if there is adequate generation capacity margin. The Winter Outlook then identifies periods where the margin between generation capacity and forecast peak demand is low, and the security of supply of the electricity system may be at risk.

The Winter Outlook is a point in time assessment, based on the best information available in September and is subject to change.

The reasons for an improvement in outlook over last year are due largely to the work on the State led Security of Supply Programme which will have a positive impact on generation capacity and will deliver an expected 270 megawatts of temporary emergency generation this year. Further capacity of temporary emergency generation (380 megawatts) and other capacity including batteries will be delivered in 2024. Our nearest trading partner, Great Britain, is also more positive in terms of outlook and arrangements are in place with Large Energy Users who will support the system in the event of any unforeseen challenges with generation capacity.

There is a risk that the system will enter System Alert (Amber) State at times in Winter 23/24 most likely during peak hours and at times of low wind and low interconnector imports. The Winter Outlook also outlines how there is a reasonable but low probability of the system entering the Emergency State (Red) at times, due to insufficient generation being available to meet the demand. However, emergency protocols are in place, including with Large Energy Users, where sufficient notice of an event can be provided (minimum of 1 hour). This along with increasing capacity, including Temporary Emergency Generation will help EirGrid mitigate the impact on homes and businesses.

Commenting on EirGrid’s Winter Outlook, the Chief Executive of EirGrid, Mark Foley said,

“It is encouraging to see that the risk of disruption to electricity supplies due to insufficient generation has reduced for this winter. It is worth noting that there were no System Alerts last winter when the risk of going into alert was significantly higher than it is this winter. There were many reasons for that including the close co-ordination of our Operations team with our counterparts in Great Britian to ensure continued support on the East-West Interconnector, good renewable generation, and a slightly lower than expected break down, or forced outages, at plants.”

“The margin between supply and demand this winter may be tight at times particularly over the 5-7 pm evening peak. However, this winter, we do have more capacity becoming available to us over the coming months. This includes the Temporary Emergency Generation units that will gradually become available to us from next month. This is an insurance policy that will only be used if required to secure electricity supply.”

“In addition to additional capacity, we also now have emergency protocols in place with Large Energy Users that will see them reduce demand by up to 75% should we enter a system emergency state. This is a very significant development and will provide substantial support to the electricity system.” #

“While the balance between supply and demand remains tight as we head into this winter, at EirGrid we will be working hard to ensure that we are using everything at our disposal to limit the impact on homes and businesses around the country.”