Demand varies from 2,000mw on summer nights to 5,000mw on winter peak demand evenings. These generators are paid capacity payments to compensate them for keeping the extra capacity available in winter which is not used at other times of the year.
The difference between 6,200mw capacity and 5,000mw peak demand is 1,200mw and this provides a reserve in case of a breakdown or unexpected demand above winter peak. As demand approaches full capacity the risk of black outs increases.
The ESB controls 3,078 mw of total capacity amounting to 50%, and the announcement of an impending strike was accompanied by threats of blackouts just when demand is greatest. But there is another source of power that has been hailed as cheap, green and free installed here. There is 2,000mw of wind turbines bringing total capacity to 8,200mw, which is 3,200mw above maximum winter peak and slightly above the capacity of the ESB’s plant. We have sufficient total capacity to meet demand.
So “where is the wind”? The wind will not be blowing when the cold calm frosty nights push the system to the limit. Even when it is blowing, it is so erratic that most output cannot be used and must be paid to shut down. The amount paid to shut down last year was €142m. Wind companies are paid €26m per year in capacity payments so they can meet contingency demand in these type of situations. They cannot meet their side of the bargain if there is no wind.
My association has been trying to alert the public and government that all the wild claims about wind energy are untrue and that wind can never provide any form of useful electrical power.