There is an interesting and worrying submission made by AES, the owners of Kilroot and Ballylumford coal powered stations.
- Since the publication of the provisional results on 20th December 2017, two key questions have been asked of UREGNI and SONI:
- Where will Northern Ireland get the equivalent energy when the Kilroot coal units and the Ballylumford B station unit close?
- What will the cost of this additional energy be, assuming it can be obtained when required?
- To date AES is not aware that these key questions have been answered, and is only aware that what has been stated publicly is that SONI believes that sufficient “capacity” has been procured in the T-1 process.
- Despite the unconsulted upon change in constraint rules, actual dispatch of Kilroot from 5 January to 10 February inclusive was such that when the Kilroot units have been available and the NI demand has gone above 1400 MW, at least one Kilroot unit has been on 96% of the time. In the context of the I-SEM go-live date on 23 May and the expected removal of Kilroot’s coal units due to the results of the T-1 capacity auction, AES would question the discrepancy in approach to load centre stability between Belfast and cities in the South. We would encourage the publication of the technical assessment carried out to determine that the Kilroot coal units are not required, so it could be compared to the October 2017 declaration of Kilroot’s criticality.
- Further in parallel with this publication, SONI and the UR should outline (i) details of the clear rationale for the change to their proposed operation regime, (ii) details of the risk assessment carried out to ensure they were not taking on any increased level of risk in how they operate the NI electricity system on behalf of Northern Ireland electricity consumers without such consumers being fully aware of, consulted with, and comfortable with, any potential additional risk.
There is a requirement for three power stations to be on load at all times in the region to keep the grid stable. Two of those are Kilroot and Ballylumford. If they close down, blackouts are a certainty for Northern Ireland. What will the cost be to the economy there as industry is forced to shut down or depend on their own off grid electricity sources ?
The media are focused completely on the impact of Brexit and the Irish border on the North's economy. But in the end, it may well turn out that political decisions made about their electricity sector will have the most adverse impact. Perhaps then, people will wish they discussed this issue a lot more.