Ireland’s Renewable Power Push Creates New Incentive Opportunities for Irish Businesses
Ireland’s strong progress toward its goal of generating 40% of the country’s power through renewable sources is creating new challenges for the grid. As a result, Irish businesses find themselves in position to help address these challenges—and earn incentive payments as a result.
In 2016, wind was the second largest source of Ireland’s electricity generation after gas, accounting for 22.3% of total generation. In 2017, Ireland set new records for wind power installations—further advancing the country’s progress toward its renewable power goals.
This push for wind energy is also helping EirGrid, Ireland’s transmission system operator, meet its target of 75% variable non-synchronous renewable energy on the electricity grid at any time. On 9th April, the Irish electricity system (which includes Northern Ireland) confirmed a record-setting ability to manage 65% non-synchronous renewable energy on the grid, becoming the first power system in the world to achieve this level.
Due to its somewhat unpredictable nature, however, the integration of renewable energy poses a unique challenge to grid stability. Abrupt changes to generation can lead to sudden frequency changes that threaten to disrupt the balance between supply and demand, deteriorating power quality across the grid. This is where Irish businesses can play an important role in supporting the grid’s increase in renewable generation.
How Irish Businesses Can Capitalise on EirGrid’s DS3 Programme
EirGrid have just launched a new demand-side services programme to ensure grid stability amid increased renewable integration, called DS3 (sharing the name for EirGrid’s "Delivering a Secure, Sustainable Electricity System" initiative). DS3 provides incentive payments to large energy users that can enact fast-acting distributed energy assets when the system frequency drops to a certain rate. At scale, these distributed assets can alleviate these frequency changes and protect the grid against the challenges presented by increased renewable generation. This is one of two major demand-side response programmes available in Ireland, the other being the new Capacity Market created as part of the Integrated Single Electricity Market (I-SEM) which commences 1st October 2018.
The DS3 programme is currently limited by a fixed budget that—when met—will cap the number of businesses able to participate. An auction-based mechanism for procuring services is expected in the future, however. Enrolment into the programme will occur on a six-month basis.
Enel X works with large energy users, such as those in the construction, healthcare, transportation, food processing, and agriculture industries, to enrol their load into the programme and earn incentive payments. We monitor grid frequency remotely from our global Network Operations Centre and automatically deploy customers' assets once frequency falls between 49.985 Hz and 49.3 Hz using our state-of-the-art technology. Customers can determine the set point within that range based on their unique business needs.
Before the launch of the DS3 programme, Enel X was the first and only provider of aggregated frequency response services to EirGrid as part of a pilot project. But Ireland is just one example of demand-side management playing an important role in maintaining grid stability amid a rise in renewable generation. Australia, for example, has also turned to demand response to help prevent widespread outages as the country experiences spiking temperatures while also supporting the continued growth of solar power generation across the grid. The evolving grid calls for new, innovative solutions that directly impact large energy users. Businesses will need to be in position to capitalise on these opportunities as they arise.