10 November 2021
EirGrid Chief Executive, Mark Foley and Eamon Ryan TD, Minister for Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, have unveiled the Shaping Our Electricity Future roadmap, a blueprint for radically transforming the country’s electricity grid.
EirGrid was asked by the Government to transform the electricity system in anticipation of a future without coal, oil, peat and ultimately one with net zero emissions. Specifically, EirGrid must redevelop the grid to manage the vast majority of Ireland’s electricity coming from renewable sources by 2030.
The Shaping Our Electricity Future roadmap is the result of a comprehensive 14-week consultation across all sectors of society and two years of research by industry experts and tens of millions of technical simulations.
It provides an outline of the key developments needed from a networks, engagement, operations and market perspective to support a secure transition to at least 70% renewables on the electricity grid by 2030. This is an important step on the journey towards 80% renewables, which will present opportunities for further renewable generators, and ultimately, net zero by 2050.
EirGrid consulted on four different approaches to developing the grid and the final roadmap contains a blended approach that looks at grid development from an economic, technical, social acceptance and deliverability perspective and seeks to minimise the impact on communities while still delivering on the renewable ambitions. It also takes account of available capacity and network development synergies and is aligned with policy.
The plan comprises 40 new grid infrastructure projects, representing a total investment of over €1 billion. This is on top of an existing €2.2 billion programme of grid infrastructure projects which we have already engaged with communities on and which we have funding for.
Under the Shaping Our Electricity Future roadmap, there will be greater control over where future generation and demand is located, minimising the need for the development of new electricity lines. Most of the new projects identified in the blueprint are upgrades to existing infrastructure.
Minister Ryan said: “We must radically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and make the transition to cleaner, indigenous renewable energy. Increased renewable energy will insulate Ireland from the volatility of international gas and carbon prices, which are near an all-time high. Shaping Our Electricity Future shows a clear path to delivery on our commitments to decarbonise our electricity grid, harness our natural resources and bring renewable energy into the heart of our communities. It will also enable us meet the projected increase demand for electricity over the coming years.”
For fourteen weeks from March 8th, EirGrid held a series of workshops, meetings and fora across the country to inform people and gather feedback that directly influenced the final roadmap.
The consultation was supported by a range of traditional and innovative engagement and participation activities. These included a Deliberative Dialogue (modelled on Ireland’s Citizens Assembly), complemented by national fora involving industry, civil society and youth. In addition to this, EirGrid engaged at grassroots level with rural communities, local businesses and young people. In response, there were 492 submissions from members of the general public and 80 industry submissions.
Mark Foley, EirGrid Chief Executive, said: “Shaping Our Electricity Future will secure the transition to a clean energy future that will be delivered in line with government policy and with the support of the regulator. The grid requires unprecedented change in the next ten years. This transition to clean electricity will affect everyone in Ireland and will unquestionably be difficult, however the benefits will be truly transformative at both a societal and an economic level. This is why our 14-week consultation was so focused on reaching every group in society, as well as our industry colleagues. It is imperative that we find an agreed approach to reach the 2030 renewable targets.”
Shaping Our Electricity Future Publications: