Amber Energy Alerts could be issued over the next two weeks as temperatures plummet across the country, the Tánaiste has warned.
It comes after an EU electricity agency warned that risks to Ireland’s power system have doubled this winter.
The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) said Ireland would face nearly 15 hours without energy unless efforts were made to cut demand.
That is up from the six hours predicted in the agency’s October report.
Speaking to reporters this morning, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said plummeting temperatures and a lack of wind would put the system under pressure.
“The projections are that the next two weeks are going to be quite tight in terms of the supply of electricity,” he said.
“Largely because temperatures are going to be very low and there isn’t going to be very much wind.
“So that means there could be what we call Amber Alerts happening.”
Minister Varadkar said Environment Minister Eamonn Ryan had briefed ministerial colleagues about the threat over the last couple of days.
He said major energy users that have their own backup supply would be the first to be impacted.
“I do want to reassure people that in the unlikely event there is a shortage of electricity - and that hasn’t happened yet - the first to be affected will be the major energy users: The data centres.”
Electricity grid operator Eirgrid issues alerts when it feels there is not enough of a buffer between supply and demand.
When a System Alert (Amber Alert) is issued, there is no immediate impact on households.
The alert “warns of the potential for temporary electricity supply issues in the near future” so engineers can take actions to protect supply.
Eirgrid said System Alerts often pass off without incident.
A System Emergency (Red Alert) is issued when there is a high risk that demand can no longer be met.
When these alerts are issued, Engineers can take actions, including controlled outages or a temporarily reduction in electricity supply for some users, to protect the integrity of the overall grid.
Should a System Emergency be announced the first users to be impacted would energy users with access to their own on-site generation, such as data centres.