The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (the CRU) has statutory responsibility, under S.I. 60 of 2005, to ensure security of electricity supply. The CRU has the duty to monitor electricity supplies and to take such measures as it considers necessary to protect security of supply. It is assisted in its statutory role by EirGrid, Irelands’ electricity transmission system operator, which is required to report to the CRU with regard to security of electricity supply matters. EirGrid is also responsible for the day-to-day management of the electricity transmission system.
The CRU and EirGrid have advised that they have identified specific challenges to ensuring continued electricity security of supply, which they are currently in the process of addressing, including : lower than expected availability of some existing power stations; anticipated new power stations not being developed as planned; expected growth in demand for electricity including due to the growth of data centres; and the expected closure of power stations that make up approximately 25% of conventional electricity generation capacity over time. Our decarbonisation commitments must proceed while addressing these challenges.
A range of actions is being taken by the CRU and EirGrid in relation to security of electricity supply over the coming winter and years ahead. These actions being progressed include: maximising the availability of existing generators; development of new generation capacity; making changes to the grid connection rules for data centres, and working with large energy consumers to, where possible, reduce their electricity demand during peak periods. My Department is working closely with the CRU and EirGrid in order to progress these actions.
It should be noted that the closure of two of the three peat-fired power stations in the midlands was a result of the ESB not securing planning permission from the relevant planning authority for their future operation. The third peat-fired power station, owned by Bord na Mona, is currently in the process of seeking planning permission to operate beyond 2023.