In many cases growth in demand for electricity results in higher power flows on the transmission network. Where the power flows exceed the capability of the Grid, reinforcement is necessary. Demand forecasts are therefore a good indicator of the need for grid investment. A well established relationship exists between economic growth and electricity consumption. The forecast for demand levels in 2025 are based on the Economic and Social Research Institute’s long-term forecast of moderate growth in economic activity [Eirgrid 2009].
In a recent radio debate on RTE This Week programme, which can be listened to here, we were told that the Grid 25 programme is still required regardless of renewables. This is quite simply false and mis-informs the public.
The main economic justification behind Grid 25 was the following graph from 2009 when Eamon Ryan was Minister for Energy:
As everyone knows, this level of demand never materialized. In fact, demand went in the opposite direction.
In normal economic projections for projects, if the projections don't materialize, then the project is dropped or at least scaled down. But the entire Grid 25 programme is still being pushed by the establishment and lobby groups. Quite why, I am not sure. Forget the banking enquiry, we desperately need an enquiry into this now.
Billions of euros, high electricity bills and environmental destruction are at stake.
There are other questions which also arise - what happened to our investments in energy efficiency which were supposed to reduce demand ? Does this show that the establishment have secretly thrown energy efficiency out of the window and are only paying lip service to it ? What are the reasons for this ?
Of course, facilitation of wind energy and the government's plan to have the highest electricity bills in Europe is still part of the justification for the grid plans :
Many of the locations suitable for renewable energy generation schemes are in areas where there have been little or no generation developments heretofore. The aggregate of renewable generation capacity in some areas is equivalent to large conventional generation stations and in many cases the network is not capable of carrying the power from these generation sources. Significant reinforcement of the Grid will therefore be required to cater for the new power flows from renewable generation. It will not be possible to utilise Ireland’s natural resources of renewable energy without the essential upgrades outlined in GRID25 [Eirgrid, 2009].
The primary driver for the Grid West project is the connection of new renewable energygeneration planned for the region; specifically projects proposed by Coillte, ESB and Bord naMóna [Eirgrid, 2015]
But this doesn't explain why the following lobby groups have an interest in Grid 25 going ahead :
Institute for Ecology
Irish Congress of Trade Unions
Irish Countrywomen's Association
Irish Environmental Network
Irish Farmers Association
Irish Landscape Institute
National Parks & Wildlife Services
Royal Town Planning Institute
These groups form part of the National Advisory Committee to Eirgrid. Why are these groups pushing the €4 billion euro Grid plans and wind energy, and resisting investment in energy efficiency while ignoring the economic reality since the projections were made in the above graph ?
It seems when it comes to energy, everybody goes silly.