Sligo and its Future Electricity Supply

Sligo and the wider region has a chance to change the way it uses electricity and in doing so, we will all have a chance to make a positive difference on climate change.

Last week Sligo Chamber hosted a webinar which was attended by more than 45 participants including energy network Eirgrid and other Chambers of Commerce in the North West.

The purpose was to explore the different ways that we all might access energy supply in the coming years – while at the same time helping to ease pressure on the Earth’s fragile resources.

With only 40% of electricity used throughout the year in Ireland coming from clean generation, the Government wants this to increase to 70% by 2030.

That’s why it has tasked EirGrid with making the national grid ready so this can happen.

EirGrid launched a public consultation document Public Consultation: Shaping Our Electricity Future | EirGrid Consultation Portal outlining four draft approaches to attaining this 70% target.

EirGrid’s Chief Innovative and Planning Officer Liam Ryan and Head of Future Networks Robbie Aherne explained four different approaches at the Sligo Chamber webinar.

These gave Chamber members a greater appreciation of the rationale for each approach and to show what needs to be done to attain the 70% clean electricity target.

Liam Ryan said: “To achieve this target, we need to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels as clean electricity is a key decarbonising component in Ireland’s Climate Action Plan. We need to add more energy from the wind and the sun to the power system.

“This means that Ireland’s electricity grid will need to carry more power from renewable energy sources that vary, depending on the weather, and this power will need to be carried over longer distances. As a result, we need to make the grid stronger and more flexible.”

The four options being considered by EirGrid and for which they are seeking public input are:

  1. Generation-Led – to put clean electricity generation close to where most power is used. This approach is likely to lead to more offshore wind generation close to the major cities with less need for new onshore renewable generation. This will be East Coast based projects.
  2. Developer-Led – to continue to allow developers decide where to locate clean electricity generation. This approach has proven successful to date and mainly consists of West/North West onshore wind projects.
  3. Technology-Led – to explore new ways to move clean electricity across the country. This will involve isolated underground cables carrying high voltage direct current from renewable sources from the West/North West coast to the East Coast.
  4. Demand-Led – top locate large electricity users close to sources of clean electricity generation. This means that new large – scale electricity users like data centres would locate closer to sources of renewable electricity and where the grid is already strong.

As Robbie Aherne stated: “All four options are different and will provoke debate and that’s why we are undertaking extensive public consultation.

Option 1 is highly likely to succeed.

Option 2 is unlikely and it would not be deliverable before 2030.

Option 3 would require high voltage underground cables to transport power in bulk underground and would be very challenging to complete on time.

Option 4 would require large electricity users to located in preferred locations to succeed.

The final solution may well be a blend. We can’t make this decision on own; we need feedback from business, communities, the public, and from the younger generation also.”

“Some of the approached depend on the actions of stakeholders to succeed and all approaches need timely public consent, which is why we are consulting so extensively,” he added.

Sligo Chamber is pleased to play its part in this process by encouraging Chamber members, businesses, communities, and individuals in the North West region to respond to this public consultation process.

Aidan Doyle, the CEO of Sligo Chamber said: “The move to clean electricity will affect everyone in Ireland so this is an ideal opportunity for people to share their views. Sligo Chamber intends to submit a response by the deadline of 12 noon on 14th June 2021. This is an opportunity for us to play our part in finding the best way of shaping Ireland’s electricity future.”