REthink Energy: Security of Ireland's electricity supply has never been more important


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16.45 29 Oct 2020


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The security of Ireland’s energy supply has never been more important as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

A former European Commission Director General for Energy is warning that Ireland will become an ‘Energy Island’ within the EU on New Years’ Eve – and steps must be taken ensure the country can meet its power needs in the short term.

Sir Philip Lowe made the comments at the latest REthink Energy lecture from the ESB and the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA).

The fourth lecture in the series saw Sir Philip examining the impact Brexit will have on energy supplies in Ireland and the wider transition to green energy across Europe.

“From the end of this year, Ireland becomes an energy island in EU terms,” he said. “In principal, cut off from the rest of the networks in the EU.”

“There is certainly more and more self-sufficiency through renewables but, for the moment, Ireland is very much linked with the UK market both in electricity and gas.”

He said the €500bn Celtic Interconnector between Ireland and France will go some way towards ending Ireland’s reliance on UK energy supplies but warned that the project will not come on stream until 2025.

In the mean-time,  he said Ireland will need back-up generation capacity and suggested that “gas-fired power plants may not yet be a thing of the past at least until 2030.”

Sir Philip also warned against exaggerating the impact of Brexit on the wider European energy sector. He said the UK had already transposed the majority of the EU's energy directives into its own domestic legislation and said he expects the two sides policies on energy and climate change to remain aligned after the UK leaves the bloc.

A former Director General for Energy at the European Commission, Sir Philip Lowe is now Chair of the World Energy Council’s Trilemma Project and a partner at Oxera Consulting.

The REthink Energy lecture series recognises that carbon neutrality can only be achieved through a fundamental transformation of Europe’s energy systems and features some of the world’s leading minds in politics, industry and academia to examine how this can be achieved.

The series began in July with an excellent talk by Christian Buchel, Chair of the E.DSO for Smart Grids, who spoke about the ‘smart grid revolution’ in Europe which will enable the digitalisation, decentralisation and decarbonisation of the electricity grid

It continued last month with a fascinating address from Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, Director and Chief Economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and key contributor to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, we heard from Dr Christina Demski Deputy Director of the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST) and Niamh Boyle founder and Managing Director of the Reputations Agency in Dublin on building popular support for the transition to green energy.

Over the coming weeks, the series will hear from those at the forefront of the fight for green energy and examine crucial issues including energy inequality, the potential of offshore wind development in Ireland and the role of household microgeneration in modern cities.

You can tune in to the next talk, featuring Trident Winds CEO Alla Weinstein discussing ‘Windfloat Technologies and the Future of Offshore Wind’ on Friday November 20th.


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