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The power plant will be located in Dublin Port
Electricity emergency

Emergency gas power plant set to run for up to five years to address energy shortfall

Planning permission for the project was originally filed in March 2022.

A TEMPORARY POWER plant in North Dublin is set to take 15 months to build and will be in operation for up to five years, according to a report published by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.

The plant itself will be located in North Wall in Dublin and will add an additional 210 megawatts of power to the Irish electricity grid through six gas-powered generators.

The plant, which went through consultation with An Bord Pleanála (ABP) in recent months, is set to be given the go ahead by Minister Eamon Ryan through a Ministerial Order.

A second temporary plant has been proposed in Huntstown, Co Dublin, but this has not yet received approval by ABP.

The Journal originally reported on the proposed power plants in April, with EirGrid initially seeking to have the two emergency plants up and running by winter.

The plans for the two plants come after EirGrid raised concerns about electricity generation last year, due to rising demand for electricity and the closure of older, fossil-fuel powered plants, like Moneypoint in Co Clare.

A major report was compiled by EirGrid, which showed that Ireland could potentially face electricity shortages over the next several winters due to the shutdowns of older plants.

It also comes days after the Government reached an agreement on sectoral emissions cuts, with the electricity sector expected to cut their carbon emissions by 75% by 2030.

According to Dr Muireann Lynch, Senior Research Officer with the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), Ireland’s electricity supply is currently “as tight as we’ve been in a long time”.

Lynch said that the main reason for tighter electricity supplies was a change in the electricity market, leading to some companies taking electricity generation contracts but not carrying them out.

This combined with an increased demand for electricity, but Lynch says the increase wasn’t unexpected.

“We’ve had increased demand, particularly from data centres, but it hasn’t increased anymore than we thought it would increase,” Lynch said.

“That would suggest that it was actually either bad planning or a bad market decline that resulted in the generators who were contracted to show up not actually showing up.”

When asked whether there would be a possibility of blackouts this winter, Lynch said it was a possibility – but it would be down to the amount of wind energy generated.

“If it were the case where you have a high demand period coinciding with little or no wind, in that situation we could be looking at blackouts. Now they always are a last resort, but they can happen.”

Lynch said that the electricity grid has to be operated to a certain standard, with Ireland being permitted to not meet all the demand for electricity for a maximum of eight hours a year and say that the electricity grid is reliable.

However, Lynch added that if demand is not met, even for less than the eight hours, it would be a “cold comfort” to say the grid is still reliable.

Dublin Port plant

The North Wall plant will be located to the east of Dublin City Centre and will be within the boundaries of Dublin Port, with the nearest residential property located 760m south of the proposed plant, according to an assessment screening and natural impact statement.

This statement was released by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications in late June.

The construction of the plant will take place across three separate stages, with pre-construction works and demolition each taking two months. The construction of the plant will take 11 months.

The plant itself will only run when electricity demand is high and when generation from other sources, like wind, is low.

It’s expected to run for up to 500 hours a year and only four hours a day when it is needed.

A spokesperson for the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications said that the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has a programme of work underway to tackle the electricity supply issues.

“The actions include procurement of new, enduring capacity through a number of forthcoming capacity auctions, extending the availability of existing generation capacity, additional use of grid-scale batteries and improved demand side measures,” the spokesperson said.

huntstown 702 Huntstown Power Station in Co Dublin Sam Boal Sam Boal

This includes having EirGrid source and deliver temporary electricity generation capacity for this winter and next winter.

“This temporary generation capacity will be contracted for a limited period. It will be available when needed and will be in addition to existing generation capacity in the electricity market.

“The temporary capacity is being secured to mitigate any potential risks of a shortfall in electricity supply. Concerns over such risks had arisen largely due to non-delivery of previously contracted capacity, increasing electricity demand and the increasing unreliability of some existing plants,” the spokesperson added.

EirGrid previously said that balancing supply and demand for electricity is becoming “increasingly challenging”, including growth in electricity demand.

“These factors have the potential to place increased pressure on the supply demand balance, particularly when demand for electricity is high and renewable generation is low,” a spokesperson for EirGrid said.

According to EirGrid, it is working on multiple actions to help address the shift in supply and demand for the medium and long-term.

“In the short term we are closely monitoring the situation and working with conventional generators to ensure that plant performance and availability is maximised as well as working to optimise our operation of the grid.

“EirGrid is also engaging regularly with the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), and with the Department of Climate, Environment and Communications on this issue.”

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