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'The public deserve to hear' - Former minister calls for IDA explanation over energy supplies

A former energy minister says the IDA should be explaining to the public where we stand on electr...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.00 28 Sep 2021


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'The public deserve to hear' -...

'The public deserve to hear' - Former minister calls for IDA explanation over energy supplies

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.00 28 Sep 2021


Share this article


A former energy minister says the IDA should be explaining to the public where we stand on electricity supply.

Pat Rabbitte was speaking amid concerns over the country's resources going forward.

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan has said the electricity supply in Ireland is going to be tight for the next three or four years.

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While a report from Eirgrid - due to be published this week - is expected to warn that increasing energy consumption by data centres will outpace the capacity of the system in the coming years if the current growth rate continues.

Mr Rabbitte told Newstalk Breakfast the IDA has a role to play here.

"I have to say I didn't see it creeping up on us so quickly.

"The fact that some gas-fired plants are out of commission, the closure of peat plants, the veracious appetite of big data centres for energy, the demand on the economy now that is growing.

"All of these things have put severe pressure - I wouldn't say we're on a knife edge, but we certainly are stretched.

"It is a very delicate situation, so that I think we have to be very careful."

But he says people deserve an explanation.

"It seems to me that the IDA ought to be heard on this: if you take big data centres, for example, the energy demand is larger than a very big Irish town.

"A single data centre has a bigger energy requirement than a major Irish town.

"I think the IDA should - I'm surprised they haven't entered the debate - they should give us an assessment of the pros and cons.

"They may be doing that to Government, but I think the public would deserve to hear them".

Acknowledging data centres are important to the economy, he says there has to be an end point.

"I think we have to decide where is the tipping point: do we have to continue to build out new, big data centres merely because we have an attractive climate for that purpose - and perhaps an attractive climate in more ways than just the temperature".

On wind energy, he says we need a proper back-up when this fails.

"We have done well on wind, and there is a limit to what we can do.

"Yes we can still improve our reliance on wind, but the fact of the matter is that wind doesn't sometimes blow.

"And in those circumstances you have to deal with intermittency by back-up, and the back-up up to now has been gas-fired.

"There isn't much point in us going to back to the peat plants debate: that's over, and the peat plants are now in the past.

"That decision was probably inevitable given our climate change requirements".

'The public deserve to hear' - Former minister calls for IDA explanation over energy supplies

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

   

Main image: Pat Rabbitte arriving at Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle in 2018. Picture by: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

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Eamon Ryan Eirgrid Electricity Supply Energy Supplies Newstalk Breakfast Pat Rabbitte The IDA

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