Sunday 10 July 2016

ESRI Report on Brexit

The ESRI report on Brexit warns about the implications for the All Island Electricity Market. ESRI economic forecasts have being proven wrong before, most famously when they predicted a "soft landing" in 2008. This recent report seems to have flaws as well.

  •  The first point that needs to be noted is the fact that an all-island electricity market has existed since 2007. Interconnection between Ireland and Northern Ireland is particularly important for Northern Ireland which relies on electricity imports from Ireland to make up for insufficient local electricity generation capacity.

Northern Ireland has a capacity shortage. Now that they are outside the EU, they can ignore EU Directives on power stations, reverse the closure of their coal plants, and open a new power station if required. This is an easy solution to their problems, it's also cheaper than building the North South Interconnector, but somehow ESRI failed to spot it.

  • Hence the UK government considered trading in renewable electricity with Ireland, which could have reduced the cost of UK compliance. However, negotiations on this strategy stalled because of a reluctance to pay the necessary subsidy to Irish producers, in spite of the fact that it would have reduced the overall cost of compliance for the UK. 

Cost was only one issue. The UK officials realized that there was a high correlation of wind between the two islands i.e when wind is blowing in the UK, it is blowing in Ireland and vice versa. This reduces the benefits of importing wind from Ireland.

  •  If the UK left the EU it would no longer be subject to EU regulatory measures to deal with a possible crisis situation in the case of a gas or oil shortage. Ireland would then have to consider how best to provide protection from very unlikely, but potentially catastrophic outcomes. Gas supplies are of crucial importance to Ireland because gas plays a central role in electricity generation. Because of this, any interruption to supply could have very serious consequences. 

I thought that Ireland's goal was to be energy independent by building wind farms ? So why will there be a problem if UK can't supply gas to us anymore ? An inherent, but unwritten, assumption in the ESRI report is that investment in wind energy will not make us materially any less dependent on gas imports.  So why are they pushing the wind policy ?

In reality, should a wide gap open up between UK and Ireland in terms of one country pursuing EU energy policy for the next 10-20 years and the other not, then Ireland will become more and more dependent on UK for electricity. EU energy policy may well result in the closure of uneconomical Irish power stations whilst UK will be free to build more.

Sunday 3 July 2016

Non Compliance with Aarhus Convention - Update

Reblogged from The Law is My Oyster with thanks to Neil, Pat and David for their efforts.

The Irish Authorities have got themselves into a precarious state of affairs viz a viz their responsibilities under International and European environmental law :

The first session involved the opening statements.  These are delivered in writing to the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (ACCC) beforehand, which allows a speaker from both sides to paraphrase and highlight the main points underpinning the Communication and the Party’s Response  in about ten minutes or so.
And then it was the turn of the Curator. The Curator is the ACCC member who was assigned the case, researches it, makes some sort of preliminary assessment (and perhaps recommendations?) to the rest of the Committee in closed session before the parties are invited in.
The Curator asks ‘clarification questions’ to both the Communicant (us) and the Party (the Irish government) – sometimes a common question for both sides to answer, and sometimes a question directly and specifically at one party but the other is entitled to respond to the answer to the question. It is a very European civil-law way of doing it and you need to listen to the questions carefully, as they often have a sting in the tail.