The Commission for Regulation of Utilities, CRU, has statutory responsibility to monitor and take measures necessary to ensure the security of electricity supply in Ireland. The CRU has advised it has identified specific challenges to ensuring continued security of electricity supply. These challenges include 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 the coming years.
In September, the CRU published an information note setting out the programme of actions being progressed to deliver secure supplies of electricity. The actions set out in the CRU programme include increasing the availability of existing generators, developing new generation capacity, including temporary generation capacity in advance of winter 2022, extending the operational life of some existing generators, a new policy for the grid connection of data centres, and actions to enhance demand-side response, including large consumers reducing demand when the system margin is low. In addition, my Department is developing a new national policy statement on security of electricity supply in support of the CRU work programme.
It should be noted that, while there have been a number of system alerts on the electricity system in recent times, there has been no need to disconnect customers. It is not possible to provide an absolute guarantee this would never happen, but I can assure the Deputy the CRU is working with the support of EirGrid and my Department to minimise the chances of this happening.