The Taoiseach has attempted to allay the public’s fears over possible power outages this winter, saying everything will be done to prevent them.
Micheal Martin said the Government will make every effort and do “what needs to be done” to avoid the lights going out.
He said any short-term demand problems will be managed by working with large companies who will be required to use their back-up power supply.
He made the comments after Labour leader Alan Kelly called on the Taoiseach to guarantee that the lights will stay on this winter.
During Leaders’ Questions, Mr Kelly said: “I’m concerned because of our lack of long-term planning we’re sleepwalking into a crisis here when it comes to energy.”
Mr Martin said two gas-fired plants currently offline for maintenance will be back up and running in October and November.
He said repair work has been complicated by delays associated with Covid-19.
“However, we have been assured that these plants are due back in operation in October and November, and that will ensure supply throughout this winter,” Mr Martin added.
“Any short-term problems will be managed by working with large energy users who have their own back-up power supply.
“Secondly, there is a generation gap between 2022 and 2025 because planned capacity increases won’t come on stream.
“We’ve been assured by the CRU (Commission for Regulation of Utilities) and EirGrid that they have plans in place to bridge that gap, including extending the operation of existing generators.”
He said there will also be new interconnectors to France and Britain.
Will people be able to turn on their lights this Christmas? 💡@alankellylabour has asked the Taoiseach can he guarantee energy supply to homes this winter after the Minister for Energy this morning on radio couldn’t guarantee that the lights would stay.
People need answers👇 pic.twitter.com/TqoFLctkD3
— The Labour Party (@labour) September 29, 2021
“The commission for existing utilities is also developing a new data centre connection policy to ensure their operation is aligned with supply and there’ll be greater obligations on the operation of data centres in respect of the issue,” Mr Martin said.
People Before Profit TD Brid Smith said the threat to thousands of households has been compounded by the increase in the number of data centres in Ireland.
Ms Smith told the Dáil there are currently 70 data centres in Ireland.
The number of centres has increased by 25% compared to last year.
She said the most vulnerable people are afraid of losing heating “on freezing cold nights”.
She added: “This isn’t just to do with the limitation on energy, it’s very much to do with the increased cost of electricity and the rising price of carbon.
“Over 2020, we saw a 27% increase in gas demand from these data centres.
“In the context that households are facing ever-increasing energy bills, the continued granting of planning permission of energy intensive data centres is being perceived as an unfair distribution of the costs and benefits.
Brid challenges the Taoiseach on Data Centres https://t.co/PFpZY410CQ
— People Before Profit (@pb4p) September 29, 2021
“Not only are you failing on your climate targets on giving people energy but also failing on a just transition.”