Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Are blackouts on the way in West Ireland ?

High risk to security of electricity supply in South West Ireland

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote on this blog about Unit 3 in Moneypoint coal power station in Clare. It was clear that this generator was been ramped up and down to accommodate large amounts of wind penetration in the system. The effects this ramping has on equipment designed to run at full load i.e on or near 100% output, are not made available but Eirgrid do publish weekly outage reports. Last week, on Saturday 13th September, Moneypoint 3 suffered a forced outage i.e it broke down unexpectedly, the same day that Moneypoint 1 was due to come back online (Itself suffering a forced outage a month ago). 

Also, on the same day and just across the Shannon River in Co.Kerry, a 243MW heavy fuel oil generator at Tarbert suffered a forced outage, as presumably it was brought in as reserve for the loss of Moneypoint 3.

As if this wasn't bad enough, there are two other plants in the South West region out of action for scheduled maintenance - Whitegate, a 444MW gas unit and Aghada a 258MW gas unit. So in total this is a loss of 1,500MW of generating capacity, roughly half of the thermal plant capacity in the region. There is of course some hydro and variable wind generation. 

In Eirgrid's Operational Constraints 2014 Report, they state that :

There must be at least one Moneypoint unit on load at all times Required to support the 400kV network.

So if the last Moneypoint unit breaks down at the present time, then the lights in the South West region may be going out....

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