Ireland: wind power exceeded electricity demand for the first time

Isbel Lázaro.
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Inspenet, October 6, 2023.

Early last Tuesday, wind energy production in Ireland reached a peak of 3,642 MW. Although Storm Agnes brought intense winds across the country, this level of generation was not unusual. What was truly remarkable was that for the first time, this generation exceeded the electricity demand throughout the island.

Justin Moran, Director of External Affairs at Wind Energy Ireland (WEI), described the milestone as a “remarkable achievement for wind farms”.

Ireland marked a milestone

This achievement represents a significant milestone for Ireland, although it is subject to certain considerations; since currently, the country’s electrical grid has a maximum capacity of 75% for renewable energy in its energy mix. This implies that some of the energy is exported to the United Kingdom and therefore Ireland must meet the rest of the demand using fossil energy sources .

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This limit has been gradually increasing over the years, rising from 50% to 75% since 2011 and is expected to continue increasing to reach 95% in 2030. The transition to completely renewable energy generation requires adjustments to the country’s electrical infrastructure.

Likewise, the incorporation of electricity from wind and solar farms, as well as from the interconnectors that link the Irish electricity grid with those of other countries, poses significant technical challenges.

Notably, in early September, Wind Energy Ireland (WEI) reported that new monthly records for wind energy generation had been set in both July and August, surpassing previous marks.

“These are Irish generators that produce energy without burning imported fossil fuels, meaning we can reduce our carbon emissions while reducing our fuel imports ,” said Noel Cunniffe, director general of the wind industry body.

In August, wind energy production saw a 71% increase compared to the same month last year. Additionally, the average wholesale electricity price in Ireland was 72% lower than in August 2022.

The most recent figures indicate that in total, wind farms in the country contributed 32% of the energy in the first eight months of 2023. On days with the highest wind generation, electricity prices decreased on average by 5%, reaching 88.34 euros per megawatt-hour.

In the days when Ireland relied almost entirely on fossil fuels, that cost rose to €123.07 per megawatt-hour.

Affordability is very important, as is reducing our dependence on fossil fuels ,” Cunniffe added.


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