EirGrid together with Ireland’s minister for environment, climate, communications and transport, Eamon Ryan TD, has unveiled 40 new grid infrastructure projects, representing a total investment of over £85 million (€1 billion).
This forms a core part of the country’s Shaping Our Electricity Future roadmap, which looks to transform the Irish electricity system in anticipation of operation without coal, oil and peat. The country is aiming to source 70% of its electricity from renewables by 2030, ahead of reaching net zero by 2050.
“We must radically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and make the transition to cleaner, indigenous renewable energy. Increased renewable energy will insulate Ireland from the volatility of international gas and carbon prices, which are near an all-time high,” said Ryan.
“Shaping Our Electricity Future shows a clear path to delivery on our commitments to decarbonise our electricity grid, harness our natural resources and bring renewable energy into the heart of our communities. It will also enable us meet the projected increase demand for electricity over the coming years.”
EirGrid consulted on four different approaches to grid development over 14 weeks from 8 March 2021. This included running a series of workshops and meetings along with a Deliberative Dialogue (modelled on Ireland’s Citizens Assembly) and grassroots engagement with rural communities, local businesses and young people.
The final roadmap is a blend of the four approaches, with a focus on grid development from an economic, technical, social acceptance and deliverability perspective. Additionally, it takes into account the need to minimise the impact on communities of upgrades.
“Shaping Our Electricity Future will secure the transition to a clean energy future that will be delivered in line with government policy and with the support of the regulator,” said Mark Foley, EirGrid chief executive.
“The grid requires unprecedented change in the next ten years. This transition to clean electricity will affect everyone in Ireland and will unquestionably be difficult, however the benefits will be truly transformative at both a societal and an economic level.”
The £85 million funding is in addition to Ireland’s existing £1.9 billion (€2.2 billion) programme of grid infrastructure projects.
To support the growth of renewables in Ireland, it held its first Renewable Electricity Support Scheme auction in 2020. This was dominated by wind power, but solar also took 796MW.
Read the full Shaping Our Electricity Future report here.