The risk of power cuts this winter is less than last year, according to Eirgrid’s latest Winter Outlook report, published today.
However, the forecast shows that, on average, electricity consumers could potentially be without supply for up to two hours over the winter period.
Emergency protocols are in place with large energy users that would mitigate the impact on homes and businesses, where sufficient notice of an event can be provided (minimum of one hour).
This does not necessarily mean that electricity consumers will be without supply for any period during the winter.
Last year’s Winter Outlook suggested that consumers could be without power for four hours, yet consumers experienced no loss of power during the winter due to capacity issues.
Eirgrid said that there is no risk of a system-wide ‘blackout’ (a total loss of control of the electricity system) solely due to insufficient generation under any circumstances this winter.
Other conditions would have to be present or multiple and significant failures occur to cause a system-wide blackout.
A key assumption underpinning the winter outlook analysis is that there will be uninterrupted reserves of natural gas from both the Moffat terminal and the Corrib gas field, with no shortage issues.
EirGrid CEO Mark Foley said: “The margin between supply and demand this winter may be tight at times particularly over the 5-7 pm evening peak.
“However, this winter, we do have more capacity becoming available to us over the coming months.
“This includes the Temporary Emergency Generation units that will gradually become available to us from next month.
“This is an insurance policy that will only be used if required to secure electricity supply.”
The analysis of Ireland’s peak demand over winter indicates that a 1°C decrease in outside temperature results in a 40 MW increase in peak demand (50 MW when wind-chill is taken into account), meaning electricity demand in the winter is heavily influenced by weather conditions.
Eirgrid anticipates a peak demand of between 5,480 MW (low demand) and 5,930 MW (high demand) in Ireland this winter with a median demand of 5,740 MW.