Tuesday 18 August 2020

Re-evaluating the Need for the North South Interconnector


The benefits of the interconnector are clear, not only that it will improve security of supply and reduce energy costs for consumer but crucially will allow Northern Ireland to increase its capacity to handle renewable energy, which currently accounts for around two-thirds of all electricity generated.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, nobody in Ireland or the UK has thought to re-evaluate the need for the North South Interconnector given recent developments. The same lines are still being trotted out. I will deal with each below. 

1) Security of Supply - According to Eirgrid the recent capacity auctions were designed by the electricity regulators in Ireland and Northern Ireland to ensure sufficient capacity is secured to meet demand across the island. So therefore, Northern Ireland already has sufficient capacity. Also, electricity demand is now reduced due to the covid pandemic so what exactly is the supply issue? 

2) Renewables - If renewables currently accounts for around two thirds of electricity in Northern Ireland, then they are very close to meeting their target of 70%  so why is there a need for such significant investment at all to increase renewable energy if they are 94% of the way to achieving their target without it  ? Furthermore, if both the North and South of Ireland are well on track to meet their 2020 renewables targets as is being publicised, then surely there is no need for sending renewable energy across the border, given that maintaining synchronous, ie non intermittent, generation is the priority during periods of high levels of renewable energy. 

3) Savings - the figure of €20m (all-island) is consistently quoted. This is roughly €5m (£4.5m) for NI. These figures were based on a number of assumptions from at least 6-7 years ago. A lot of things have changed since then. Even if the figure is still correct, to put it into context, the Utility Regulator of NI gave kilroot a side deal worth £14m in a single year after the power station lost out in the first auction process. So the significant sums of money could be put to better use i.e. upgrading power stations and implementing measures that would reduce demand and consumption. 

Friday 7 August 2020

Coldest July in Over 30 Years

 Global Cooling has officially begun in Ireland as July 2020 was one of the coldest in the last 30 to 40 years :

This is based on six different weather stations from all regions of the country, all showing divergences of at least one degree from the mean of 1981 to 2010, with Finner Camp in Donegal, showing the greatest divergence of 1.7 degrees. 

Of course, you will have noticed that July 2018 and 2019 were warmer but the magnitude of the divergence from the mean was greatest in 2020, double that of the others which makes July 2020 statistically significant :