Wind, water and sun are becoming powerful components in meeting Ireland’s electricity needs.
Ireland is on its way to meeting the 2020 goal of having 40pc of electricity coming from renewable sources.
According to new analysis from EirGrid, 32pc of electricity demand in Ireland during 2018 was met by renewable electricity sources; in Northern Ireland, the figure was even higher at 36pc. The figures in 2017 were 30pc and 31pc respectively.
‘We are pushing the laws of physics in order to meet the challenge of integrating increasing amounts of renewable energy on to the electricity system’
– MARK FOLEY
These are the highest ever levels of renewable electricity generation on the Irish power system, EirGrid claimed.
It said that wind power makes up the vast majority of the renewable electricity resources on the island, followed by small amounts of hydropower and solar power.
“These figures are very reassuring in the context of the 2020 targets,” EirGrid CEO Mark Foley said.
“We are pushing the laws of physics in order to meet the challenge of integrating increasing amounts of renewable energy on to the electricity system, and it is encouraging to see the positive results of this work.”
Foley said that EirGrid’s Delivering a Secure, Sustainable Electricity System (DS3) programme of work has made it possible to reach the one-third figure.
Under the programme, EirGrid is now managing up to 65pc renewable energy on the power system at any given time, a milestone that it reached last April.
Ireland and Northern Ireland’s 40pc targets are ambitious in comparison to their European neighbours, which include Britain at 30pc, Germany at 35pc, Spain at 39pc and Belgium at 21pc.
The results are a feather in the cap for proponents of renewable electricity, but are undermined by the Government’s own admission recently that Ireland won’t make its 2020 carbon emission targets, which means Ireland runs the risk of having to pay €500m in fines.
The light at the end of the tunnel is that private sector players such as EirGrid are clearly stepping up their innovation game. Perhaps it is time that the policymakers also decided to push the laws of physics, too?
Updated, 4.35pm, 1 February 2019: This article was updated to clarify that renewables accounted for 32pc of Ireland’s electricity needs in 2018, not its energy needs.