Dáil Éireann - Volume 576 - 03 December, 2003
Written Answers. - Electricity Generation.
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
157. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the extent to which adequate generating capacity exists to meet requirements for the foreseeable future; if the national grid has sufficient reserves to meet all eventualities, particularly at peak load; if he has measures to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29490/03]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. D. Ahern):The Commission for Energy Regulation continues to monitor security of supply and has initiated a number of positive actions to redress postulated generation capacity shortfalls in the short-term and the medium to longer term. Short-term measures put in place for the coming winter include the implementation by ESB National Grid of a demand side management programme and increased imports of 167 MW of electricity from Northern Ireland, contracted on a priority basis to meet customer demand here until 30 June 2005, with possible extension to autumn 2006. In addition, ESB has purchased 104 MW of additional peaking capacity, which will be operational from 1 January 2004.
As to the capacity deficit in the medium to longer term, the CER recently announced the two preferred bidders in the competition it is running to facilitate the introduction of new generating plant, with a combined generating capacity of over 500 MW. Additionally, ESB is currently undertaking a significant networks investment programme, of some €4 billion up to 2007, to bring the transmission and distribution systems up to required international standards and to meet projected capacity demand requirements. The programme is being delivered within the planned timeframe and budget.
As demonstrated by recent international blackout events, no electricity power system can be fully protected from all eventualities. However, I am advised that the transmission system operator, TSO, has in place specific plans to deal with any incident quickly and effectively, whereby supply is matched to demand.
On 28 November last, the TSO published its annual Generation Adequacy Report for the period 2004 to 2010, in accordance with section 38 of the Electricity Regulation Act 1999. This report assesses the likely minimum generation capacity required to achieve an adequate supply and demand balance for electricity over a seven year time horizon. The findings of this report will inform policy developments in this area.
Plant availability has a major impact on generation adequacy. The report points to the need to improve current plant availability and states that if availability improvement measures are sufficiently effective, the supply demand balance could be restored without the need for excessive amounts of additional plant above that envisaged by the current CER capacity competition.
It also projects demand for electricity domestically to grow at an annual rate of between 2.9% and 4.3% over the period 2004 to 2010. By year end, generation capacity installed here or contracted with Northern Ireland is estimated at 5,892 MW. Excluding projected capacity of at least 500 MW to be added to the system as a result of the current CER capacity competition, the Generation Adequacy Report estimates that the generation capacity will have increased to 6,387 MW by the end of 2010. For the Deputy's ease of reference, the report is accessible on the TSO's website, www.eirgrid.ie
Dáil Éireann 576 Written Answers. Electricity Generation.