Eamon Ryan says Ireland is facing a 'very tight' few years for energy supply 

Engineers are undergoing training to manage potential blackout scenarios this coming winter
Eamon Ryan says Ireland is facing a 'very tight' few years for energy supply 

Whitegate power plant, Cork.

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan has said Ireland is facing a "very tight" few years in terms of energy supply.

It emerged over the weekend that a new report from EirGrid will say it will not be possible to secure enough new electricity generation in the years ahead to meet the rapid increase in power demand. 

Futhermore, EirGrid’s engineers are undergoing training to manage potential blackout scenarios this coming winter.

Mr Ryan said although there were concerns around energy supply, the Government had contingency plans in place.

"There is a real issue. It has been very tight, it is very tight. Even the next number of weeks before those stations [Whitechurch and Huntstown power plants], come back up, we've a very tight supply issue," Mr Ryan said. "We have a path, we know what we need to do.

"It's both managing demand and supply and there has to be regulation of demand. One industry isn't just going to expand massively and make it impossible for us to meet our climate targets or risk energy security."

Renewable power supplies

He said the main "approach", both at a national and European level, was developing renewable power supplies.

Our sea area is 10 times our land area and probably the most energy-rich place. Wind power at sea is huge and there's real potential for us to tap into that and be able to power, not just industry, but transport, a whole range of different needs."

Mr Ryan said Ireland was heading for "a very tight situation for the next two to three, four years, while we build up some of those battery and gas-fired back-up systems".

"We need that additional gas generation as back-up, but we'll be using less gas, because in Ireland, the wind blows for most of the time. You want to use it as a back-up, so we're clearly confident that we can meet our climate change targets," he added.

"It is tight, and it's tight because those two large gas plants were out of action for a year, a lot of other plants because of Covid are having to go through maintenance. So we're very conscious of that so I think we will be able to manage."

Data centres

The Social Democrats will table a motion in the Dáil this week calling for a moratorium on data centres, due to the excessive demand on Ireland's energy supply.

Mr Ryan said no industry was exempt when it comes to Ireland's climate targets.

"We have to manage the demand side, as well as the supply," he said. 

"In response to that motion this week, I will say that no one is exempt from the need to meet our climate targets and providing energy security.

"We won't see projects going ahead if they don't have that capability to fit into a low carbon and energy secure system. The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities and EirGrid, have been doing very extensive consultation and analysis of this."

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