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'We don't want sport to be impacted negatively by these factors,' said Dr Una May, Chief Executive of Sport Ireland. Alamy Stock Photo
electricity shortage

Winter blackout risk to stadium and pitch lighting may result in sports groups getting supports

Chief Executive of Sport Ireland Dr Una May says they are conscious that sports bodies could potentially be impacted.

SPORT IRELAND HAS said it has considered the possibility of how energy blackouts might impact on sport in the winter and may result in organisations needing additional supports.

Chief Executive of Sport Ireland Dr Una May told The Journal that they do not want to see sports clubs around the country impacted by possible energy blackouts in the winter, stating “this is certainly something we’ve considered”. 

When asked about the uncertainty around energy supply in the coming months and the possibility that blackouts could impact on stadium and pitch lighting or electricity supply in sports arenas, May said: 

We’ve had conversations and we’re very conscious of the fact that it could potentially be an issue for governing bodies. We are taking into consideration going forward that we allow for the possibility that we may need to provide supports come the autumn.

“We don’t want sport to be impacted negatively by these factors,” she added.

May said Sport Ireland has set aside funding for sports organisations to help them to recover from the pandemic, but said the uncertainty around energy supply is related.

“We see the potential opportunity there to maybe provide additional supports, we’ll see how it pans out,” she said.

Sustainable energy supply

There are also opportunities for organisations, such as Sport Ireland, to look at sustainable energy supply.

“I think it’s an opportunity as well. Here on the campus, for example, all of the lighting on the campus has been converted to LED. So we’d like to continue to support and promote sustainability in sport as well, across the board, wherever we can.

“But all these initiatives they do take time and money and energy from everybody’s point of view. But it’s all about that sustainable change that we’re looking across – be that culture, sustainability, or generally providing governing bodies with with the supports they need to make their sports accessible at all times,” she said. 

Dr Muireann Lynch, Senior Research Officer with the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), recently told The Journal that 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.”

Winter initiative 

Despite the uncertainty of winter energy supplies, as part of the post-Covid recovery plan, Sport Ireland will be rolling out the annual Winter Initiative for Sport. The primary focus of the initiative is to provide additional opportunities for the public to engage and re-engage in sport and physical activity in communities across the country. 

Chambers said that winter can result in many people staying indoors more and being sedentary, adding that this is an important Government initiative to get people moving and more involved in sport in the winter months.  

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