Ireland facing potential electricity blackouts this winter, prof warns

ireland
Ireland Facing Potential Electricity Blackouts This Winter, Prof Warns Ireland Facing Potential Electricity Blackouts This Winter, Prof Warns
Emergency plans to import power generators have stalled. Photo: File image.
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Vivienne Clarke

An energy engineering expert has warned that Ireland's electricity grid is facing the increased prospect of blackouts this winter as emergency plans to import power generators have stalled.

Brian Ó Gallachóir, a professor of energy engineering at University College Cork, was responding to a statement by EirGrid which said that maintaining the balance between supply and demand had become increasingly challenging due to a number of factors.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Professor Ó Gallachóir said that the prospect of blackouts would be part of the process “as our electricity system moves increasingly to a zero-carbon power system.”

Following the publication of the IPCC report last week there was now a greater impetus “to really reduce emissions across all of the sectors of the economy and transport, heating, agriculture,” said the professor, who is also the director of the MaREI Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine research and innovation.

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“The key challenge in electricity is doing that and at the same time ensuring that we have sufficient energy to keep the lights on and power things we need to go about our daily lives,” he said.

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Over the last 20 years, Ireland had increased the amount of renewable energy in the system, he added.

This had been very effectively carried out through policies that built on research, the market signals and the engineering community working together, he said.

While the amount of renewable energy had increased, he said, there was also increasing demands for electricity such as data centres, electrical vehicles and heat pumps.

Professor Ó Gallachóir said that data centres in particular were “very hungry in the electrical demands that they create.”

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