We made a big and serious mistake. This winter we will experience a severe disruption to our power system because we did not plan properly. By early 2023, this failure will quickly lead to significant social and economic disruption and losses.
The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) is Ireland’s independent regulator of energy and water. It has the statutory task of “promoting the continuity, security and quality of electricity supply”.
It is understandable that Cabinet was angry when the CRU recently stated: “There is a significant risk to the security of electricity supply in Ireland over the coming years, driven by the closure of large generating units and the failure of contracted generating capacity to supply an accelerated deterioration in the existing fleet as it responds to intermittent wind generation and significant demand growth in some economic sectors.”
The CRU also warned: “These pressures will weigh heavily on Ireland’s decarbonization targets and security of supply. A capacity squeeze is expected in the coming years if not mitigated, with particular challenges expected in the winter months of 2022-23 and 2023-24.”
It’s tempting to blame the obvious culprits – but it’s our collective fault. It is not only the Cabinet that bears collective responsibility; We’ve all been guilty of magically thinking that renewable energy would provide our electricity. We must find and fix our mistakes.
Instead, led by Environment Secretary Eamon Ryan, much of the blame for this utter fiasco has suddenly shifted to data centers. The projected growth of data centers and the gap between demand and supply have been characterized by EirGrid since 2013.
Ryan and others conveniently forget to mention the sector’s huge and growing privately funded investment in wind self-sufficiency – currently estimated at more than 450MW of electricity.
Nobody can try to hide behind the excuses of inflation or war between Ukraine and Russia. Over the past three years, there has been a growing body of warnings that our energy ambitions have completely lost touch with reality. These warnings have been ignored and belittled as groupthink has blinded our society, the media, public service and government.
A rush to decarbonize our energy system means we seek to electrify large parts of our economy, particularly home heating and transportation, at the same time as the CRU predicts the closure of large power generation units, as well as the accelerated phasing out of the existing fleet.
All of this has to be seen in the context of a minister and his department trying to prevent the opening of new plants – like the Shannon LNG plant – due to ideological opposition to the use of natural gas.
The mantra, accepted unquestioningly by all, is that renewable energy would fill the gap. Ireland has invested heavily in wind energy and in expensively re-engineering our entire national electricity grid to accommodate it.
Sector promoters are fond of pointing out that wind energy has the potential to generate enough electricity each year to power all homes in Ireland. The reality is that the CRU has identified “intermittent wind generation” as one of the drivers of our rapidly approaching crisis. In its formal power adequacy calculations, EirGrid uses a contribution figure of less than 10 percent for wind – showing how it is viewed in the real world.
When the wind isn’t blowing, it doesn’t matter how many turbines are available. We have over 300 wind farms in Ireland. Zero multiplied by 300 is still zero. In August, when power demand is at its lowest point for the year, wind generation never met demand — indeed, on some days in August, wind supplied less than 2 percent of demand. Unbelieving readers are advised to see for themselves on the EirGrid dashboard, which shows real-time wind production versus power demand.
In 2021, wind power provided less than 14 per cent of Ireland’s energy. Renewable energy “boosters” constantly seek to divert attention from this little-noticed fact by continuing to insist that we only consider wind’s contribution to electricity generation, which itself is only 35 percent. Magicians know that distraction is the oldest and best trick.
This irrationality is so strong that no one dared to ask if we had a plan in case we were wrong. We are not. In the world of planning, the biggest mistake is not having a backup.
As the full gravity of these mistakes became clear, the stepping back began. Last November’s government statement “recognises the need for a continued mix of power generation and supporting infrastructure in the current circumstances to maintain security of electricity supply”.
Indirect blame lies with a number of public bodies who have become undeniable “boosters” for renewable energy, regardless of questions or queries about the utter unenforceability of emerging policies and practices.
Outrageously, public money and public service broadcasters are used extensively to promote this insanity.
When the lights go down this winter, expect a deafening silence from this high-paying and equally highly opinionated sector.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/renewable-energy-wont-stop-the-lights-going-out-this-winter-41942139.html Renewable energy won’t keep the lights out this winter