‘Battery-based energy storage is part of the solution to electricity blackouts’

13 Oct 2022

Strategic Power Projects MD Paul Carson. Image: Strategic Power Projects

Energy sector players say better storage systems are needed to provide security of supply and prevent blackouts in Ireland.

A recent Eirgrid warning of potential power cuts is “frustrating but not surprising”, according to Strategic Power Projects’ Paul Carson.

Eirgrid, Ireland’s national grid operator, said energy deficits will increase in the short term due to the deteriorating availability of power plants.

Its annual generation capacity statement describes the current outlook as “very serious” and warned the number of system alerts will likely increase in the coming years.

A recent Eirgrid winter outlook report, meanwhile, calculated that electricity consumers could be without supplies for about four hours this winter.

However, the report advises that while this has been calculated as a “high probability” due to insufficient generation to meet demand, it does not guarantee that customers will be without supply at any time.

Speaking on the annual capacity statement, Strategic Power Projects MD Carson said that “significant changes must be made” for quicker and more cost-effective systems for battery storage and renewable energy connection.

“It has been clear for some time that things have to change on the ground before they can change across the grid,” he said.

Strategic Power Projects received planning permission from An Bord Pleanála for a proposed €140m battery storage facility in Dunnstown, Co Kildare. This facility is expected to have a capacity of more than 200MW, making it the single largest of its kind in Ireland.

Carson said the approval for the site is a “clear demonstration” that Ireland’s Climate Change bill is filtering into planning decisions.

“Change comes slowly and this change is made all the more difficult by the situation in Europe, which has put power generation under huge pressure,” he said. “Security of supply and electricity blackouts have sadly become predictable headlines in Irish news titles, north and south.

“Battery-based energy storage is part of the solution. It can be quickly developed, is very cost effective and is the backbone of modern, resilient and decarbonised energy systems,” he added.

Experts call for energy storage investment

A recent brainstorming event noted the risk Ireland faces with future blackouts and said a focus must be put on long duration energy storage.

The Irish Energy Storage Association (IESA) and Cenergise hosted a ‘Storathon’ event on 6 October. This event brought 70 delegates from stakeholders within the energy sector such as developers, market experts and financiers.

Cenergise MD Chloe Kinsella said there needs to be a co-ordinated approach to ensure Ireland has a mix of renewable technologies and long duration storage to guarantee security of supply.

“Ireland needs a diverse range of renewable technologies as the chances are it is either sunny, windy or rainy,” Kinsella said.

“We want to strike the right balance of reducing the levies on customer bills, promoting renewables but most importantly ensuring there is enough dispatchable generation for when renewables don’t show up. Long duration storage is the answer.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic