Department of Environment, Climate Change and Communications of Ireland

09/19/2022 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/19/2022 09:15

Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications launches consultation on the review of the security of energy supply for Ireland's gas and electricity systems

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications is carrying out a review of the energy security of Ireland's gas and electricity systems, which is focused on the period to 2030, but in the context of a sustainable transition to net zero emissions by 2050. As part of this review, the Department is launching a consultation today (Monday) to seek views from interested parties.

This security of energy supply review considers potential risks to both our natural gas and electricity supplies and examines a range of measures to mitigate these risks, including the need for additional capacity to import energy, to reduce energy use, energy storage, fuel diversification and renewable gases (such as biomethane and hydrogen). This review does not seek to address the expected tight margins in electricity supply over the coming winters; these are being addressed through a programme of actions being undertaken by the CRU (Commission for Regulation of Utilities), with the support of EirGrid; the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications; and industry.

The consultation document sets out the demand and supply-side risks that can have an impact on the security of energy supply for Ireland's electricity and gas systems, such as weather events, significant increases in demand, disruption to gas imports and geopolitical risks. A short list of mitigation options for both gas and electricity that could address potential security of supply gaps in the future are set out below. All of these mitigation options were modelled under a number of shock scenarios to understand the impact of each mitigation option and the level of security of supply that they can provide. The consultation document is accompanied by technical analysis to support the review process.

The list of mitigation options, which are subject to further analysis, are as follows:

  • strategic gas storage - gas storage that would only operate during periods in which there is a material risk of demand disruptions in Ireland
  • strategic floating LNG - a floating LNG facility that would only operate during periods of a material risk of demand disruption in Ireland
  • gas package - a combination of strategic storage, renewable gas (biomethane injection and hydrogen) and demand side response.
  • additional electricity interconnection - another 700MW interconnector to France in addition to the Celtic Interconnector.
  • additional pumped storage - an additional 360MW of pumped storage hydroelectricity capacity.
  • biomass plant - a 450MW dedicated biomass plant.
  • secondary fuel - increased secondary fuel storage beyond the current five-day storage requirement.
  • hydrogen plant conversion - converting a CCGT (combined cycle gas turbine) to hydrogen.
  • electricity package - a combination of additional capacity of batteries and demand side response.

Commenting on the launch of the consultation, the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, said:

"The independent review carried out by CEPA stress tests our electricity and gas energy systems to identify risks, and to provide a range of evidence-based options to address potential security of supply gaps. The analysis is undertaken in the context of major change in the Irish energy market, including a substantial increase in electricity generated from renewable sources, the phasing out of traditional fossil fuels in energy generation and electrification of heat and transport.

"As we transition to a net-zero emissions future, we must ensure that our pathway of decarbonisation is underpinned by both affordability and, critically, security in how we access and use energy at all times, including times when there might be demand risk or disruption. It is essential that we have reliable sources of energy, including adequate gas and electricity storage, so that consumer and business confidence in our economy and in our energy infrastructure remains strong. I am asking for all interested parties to review this consultation document and technical analysis and provide us their views and evidence."

The public consultation and all relevant documents are available here. The consultation period runs until 28 October, following which the responses will be reviewed. A set of recommendations will be brought to Government for consideration once the review has been completed.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor

Public Consultation on Security of Energy Supply

As part of its review of security of supply of Ireland's electricity and natural gas system, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications is launching a consultation seeking views from interested parties. The consultation document provides background on Ireland's electricity and gas systems and the supporting policy framework.

The public consultation seeks parties' views on policy measures that could be implemented to support Ireland's security of supply framework. The Minister will bring his security of energy supply recommendations to Government once the review process has been completed.

The public consultation document is accompanied by a technical analysis carried out by Cambridge Economic Policy Associates Ltd. (CEPA). The consultation period runs until Friday, 28 October 2022.

This review does not seek to address the expected tight margins in electricity supply over the coming winters; these are being addressed through a programme of actions being undertaken by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, with the support of EirGrid, DECC and industry.

Technical Analysis

CEPA have provided the Department with a detailed technical analysis and a shorter non-technical summary. The technical analysis consists of three different elements:

(i) the identification and examination of risks

(ii) the identification of options to mitigate these risks

(iii) the appraisal of these options

The risks identified are examined as demand-side risks and supply-side risks. Demand-side risks include weather events and significant increases in demand. The supply-side risks identified are disruption to UK gas imports, geopolitical risks, electricity generation capacity deficits and low availability of wind generation.

A longlist of mitigation options is then created and appraised against a set of key criteria to identify a short list of appropriate mitigation options for further analysis. The key selection criteria used were:

(i) consistency with the Climate Action Plan

(ii) security of supply impact

(iii) feasibility of implementation

The shortlist of mitigation options which were subject to further analysis are outlined above.

All of these mitigation options were modelled under a number of shock scenarios to understand the impact of each mitigation option and the level of security of supply that each option provides. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, additional scenarios were requested as part of CEPA's technical analysis to understand the potential impact of a full suspension of all Russian pipeline exports of natural gas to European markets on Irish security of supply. The analysis found that Ireland's geographic location in Europe (i.e. its close connection to Great Britain) helps mitigate the worst impacts of a supply disruption from Russia.

Options on the long list that have not been modelled in detail have not been ruled out at this point. The Department is seeking views from interested parties on all matters in the consultation paper.

Considerations

The CEPA analysis highlights a number of points:

  • The electricity measures in Climate Action Plan 2021 improve our security of supply - therefore implementation of these measures is critical to secure our energy supplies: for example: deployment of renewables, increasing our electricity interconnections to Northern Ireland, the UK and France, adding new conventional generation, battery storage and increasing demand side response
  • With regard to natural gas security of supply, the risk of a physical disruption to gas supplies is low, but the impact of such a disruption is considered very high. A range of measures are available to strengthen Ireland's position, each to different degrees.

The consultation also seeks parties' views on wider policy measures that be implemented to support Ireland's security of supply framework, including:

  • introducing joint electricity and gas network supply-demand assessment on an annual basis with the inclusion of hydrogen and renewables gases too
  • implementing a requirement for a technical analysis of energy security of supply every two years and a formal review of security of energy supply every four years