'We need energy sovereignty' - Why is electricity so expensive in Ireland?

Ireland's population and energy market are both too small for the EU to intervene
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

11.36 23 Aug 2023

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'We need energy sovereignty' -...

'We need energy sovereignty' - Why is electricity so expensive in Ireland?

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

11.36 23 Aug 2023

Share this article

Irish people are paying 80% more than the European Union average for electricity, even though wholesale prices are falling.

Wholesale prices dropped by 64% in July when compared to a year earlier, according to the CSO.

While figures compiled by the cross-border Household Energy Price Index show prices here are the highest in Europe, at around €900 a year more compared with the EU average.


Source: Household Energy Price Index

Chair in Net Zero Infrastructure at the University of Manchester, Aoife Foley, said people need to shop around for their energy prices 'the same way they do for their mobile phone bill'.

Dr Foley told The Pat Kenny Show Ireland's population and energy market are too small for the EU to intervene.

"We're an isolated power system, we have a small number of suppliers," she said.

"If you look at that, and you link that to the fact that we've a spillover effect, we're really tied into the GB market.

"Our prices really sit at what's going on in the British Isles, they're not really part of mainland European markets."

'Isolated in different ways'

Dr Foley said a number of other countries are in the same position as Ireland.

"Greece and Ireland, and the UK - if we would say European countries - with Denmark would have the highest energy prices," she said.

"They all are isolated in different ways, and they all have different things going on in their markets."

Dr Foley said our size is also a factor.

"The other issue is because we're also so isolated, even with all the interconnectors - electricity or gas - in the world, we're a small market to the European Union," she said.

"I suppose they look at us and they think we're making a budget surplus and we've high employment, there's other things going on in Europe.

"We're not their key concern, and it's a carrot or a stick approach with them in terms of our budget surplus and where that comes from."


Dr Foley has advice for people to prepare for the months ahead.

"Get yourself wrapped up, think ahead, look at all the electricity prices and energy prices from the different suppliers," she said.

"But you need to make sure, whatever you commit to, you stick to the hours of operation for the lowest prices.

"You need to get on top of your energy bills, you need to understand your gas usage, your electricity consumption.

"The way you shop around for your mobile phone bill, and I worked in both industries, you need to shop around the exact same way."

'Energy sovereignty'

Dr Foley said only one thing will truly drive down prices.

"Energy sovereignty is what's key on the island of Ireland," she said.

"We're steering away from repowering onshore wind, we're focusing on offshore floating wind off the west coast.

"[This] will have an impact on projects that can work offshore in the Celtic Sea.

"The EU isn't going to do anything for us on this, we need to solve this ourselves.

"The only way we can solve it is by having energy sovereignty," she added.

Main image: A hand counting expenses of an electricity bill on smartphone calculator. Picture by: Sergio Monti / Alamy Stock Photo

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Aoife Foley CSO EU Electricity Energy Energy Prices Energy Sovereignty Gas Ireland The Pat Kenny Show University Of Manchester

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