Sunday Business Post: Eirgrid powers forward with energy innovation

by Ruth Wildgust

Integration of the variable flow of renewable energy is key to building power grids of the future

Wind Ireland

The amount of wind-generated electricity across the island of Ireland will reach 4,800 megawatts by 2020

EirGrid is the first transmission system operator outside the States to evaluate the PowerLine Guardian, a power flow control device that helps protect the transmission system by diverting power away from heavily loaded lines to those with available capacity.

“We are particularly excited about this new technology,” said Michael Walsh, director of future grids at EirGrid.

“The PowerLine Guardian, developed by US company Smart Wires, helps prevent overloads, reduces generation costs and strengthens the ability of the transmission system to respond to changes in power flow, EirGrid is currently testing this technology for inclusion in our toolbox of smart grid technologies,” said Walsh.

“The use of new technologies, which drive long-term value for customers, is a key component of the energy system of the future,” said Walsh. EirGrid runs the transmission grid, managing the bulk flow of electricity that is generated from traditional and renewable sources. “Currently, in excess of 20 per cent of Ireland’s electricity mix comes from renewable sources,” said Walsh.

“The majority of this is generated by onshore wind. Other renewable sources and technologies, such as hydro energy, biomass and waste-to-energy plants are also integrated in smaller amounts.”

EirGrid operates the wholesale electricity market worth €3 billion, which has approximately 2.5 million electricity consumers, 1.8 million in the Republic of Ireland and 700,000 users in Northern Ireland.

EirGrid also owns and operates the East-West Interconnector, a €550 million electricity link between Wales and Ireland.

“A key objective of Ireland’s energy policy is to improve our energy security by increasing indigenous production to make us less dependent on imported fossil fuels,” said Walsh.

“A primary focus for EirGrid is to facilitate the connection of new renewable energy sources and to strengthen the network to increase the amount of renewable energy that can be safely used on the transmission grid.”

The 2009 Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC) requires that 20 per cent of all energy in the European Union comes from renewable sources by 2020.

“Ireland’s target is to source 16 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2020,” said Walsh. “Our goal in facilitating green energy is to enable Ireland to meet this target.”

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