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I-SEM: Good news for Wind Energy Generators and their Intermediaries

20th April 2017

With over 100 approved Intermediary arrangements currently established under the Irish wholesale electricity market (the Single Electricity Market, or SEM), there has been some expectation regarding the changes to these agreements that the new I-SEM (Integrated Single Energy Market) may introduce.

Although existing intermediaries will be required to take steps to transfer the registration of their Generators from SEM into I-SEM, the good news is that the SEM Regulators Authority has decided to maintain the intermediary arrangements in I-SEM. You will find the complete Decision Paper from the SEM committee here.

Both this recent decision and the extension of the I-SEM go-live date have been welcome announcements in an uncertain future for the Irish electricity market.

Uncertainty continues over delays on the update of Wind Farm Guidelines

14th April 2017

The Government has confirmed that the update to the Wind Farm Guidelines will be delayed once again, until the end of the year. Late last year, the Government already deferred the decision as a European Court ruling imposed a process of public consultation before the guidelines are issued.

The update to the 2006 Guidelines is controversial by nature, as it requires a revision of the lay down rules on how far wind turbines should be set back from residential dwellings, on noise aspects, as well as light and shadow “flicker” from the rotating blades. In this sense, residents currently feel unprotected as no minimum distance is set, and developers feel that the application of disproportionate measures will be in detriment of the development of Wind Energy in Ireland. IWEA’s call in the matter is for international standards to be applied and they propose to continue applying the 500m advisory distance.

This new delay creates more uncertainty for the sector. Even though Wind Turbines are not a risk to human health, annoyance associated with living near wind turbines is a complex phenomenon. However, these can often be mitigated. Clarity and an open dialogue between developers and the worried residents should be established, as well as leadership from the Government on the matter, to avoid further delays and continue developing the Wind Energy sector at a crucial time when the EU fines for not meeting the 2020 targets are looming over us.

Data centre giant Google to reduce carbon footprint to zero by 2017

13th December 2016

Data centres have been front and centre in the last few years in Ireland, due to prospective jobs, economic growth, and an increase in the use of Ireland as a tech hub. Now with international giants such as Facebook, Amazon and Apple driving a stake in Irish soil, Ireland has become a hotbed for data centres. A supplementary benefit of data centres is their constant 24-7 energy requirements, which provide a constant base load for electricity network operators. This helps the future development of a secure grid and ultimately facilitate integration of a mixed generation system that includes renewables.

As a company requiring very large amounts of energy to power their data centres, Google started in 2009 studying the best way to use and buy renewable energy to play their part in tackling climate change. This has posed a challenge in the US, since Google couldn’t buy clean energy from local utilities because of regional and regulatory restrictions. They considered developing their own renewable projects at their data centre facilities but the projects were not viable due to physical and geographical restrictions. As a solution, they decided to buy renewable power directly from developers on the same grids where they operate using Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). These PPAs provided all the necessary renewable energy certificates (RECs) to match their consumption when buying local power from conventional sources of power. More on how Google does this can be found here. The Irish market has seen similar initiatives by private corporations where Apple has already had a PPA tender process for its planned Irish data center, which marks a change in the dynamics of how the Irish electricity market is going to be used in the future.
Google-solar-power
Seven years on from their first look at renewables, Google is proud to announce that they will be able to purchase enough renewable energy to match 100% of their operations by 2017. Other large corporations, such as Ikea and SAP, are also choosing renewables for business sustainability, as the price of clean energy drops.

 

REFIT clarification letter provides comfort for upcoming deadline

28th November 2015

The Dept. of Communications Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) have recently released a clarification letter prior to the 31st of December 2015 deadline for REFIT 2 applications. The letter outlines how the DCENR will handle applications that do not have a copy of full planning permission and/or a grid connection offer or agreement by the deadline. The letter can be found at the following link:

http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/energy/SiteCollectionDocuments/Renewable-Energy/Clarification%20Document.pdf

Irish government needs to balance rates increase with EU commitments

20th June 2015

Ireland’s commitment to generate 40% of its gross electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020 is at stake, as commercial rates revaluations for wind farms are double those of fossil fuel plants, which is negating profitability of wind energy and creating a disincentive for investment. Ireland will be facing fines of hundreds of millions of euro for the shortfall, as well as having to purchase CO2 emission permits. And in the renewable sector, the uncertainty around revaluations of rates by the Valuation Office of Ireland is affecting the financial viability of existing renewable projects, and turning away investment for newer projects.

As the Government prepares to lead through the Dáil the Valuation Amendment No.2 Bill (2012), whereby renewable energy, including wind energy, will see an approximate 218% increase in rates liability, IWEA and Wind Farm owners across Ireland have decided to approach the Minister of State, Simon Harris T.D., to request and amendment to the Bill and ask for his support within the Committee and Dáil deliberations to come to exempt wind energy from the increase.

In 2013, around €240m in fuel imports were saved by using Ireland’s own generated wind energy, reducing the dependency on fuel imports and the C02 emissions. Wind energy also contributes to the Irish economy in terms of jobs and investment, that will be jeopardised by the increased rates.

Turlough Hill Hydro Plant Open to Public – 40th Anniversary

24th June 2014

The Turlough Hill pumped-storage hydroelectricity plant is opening for public tours during Summer 2014, to mark the 40th anniversary of the commissioning of the station, which is located in the Wicklow Mountains near Glendalough.

The Turlough Hill plant began construction in 1968 and was completed 6 years later. It is owned and operated by ESB. The main station is buried inside the mountain and can generate up to 292 MW of electricity at times of peak demand. It can also go from standstill to full capacity in only 70 seconds.

Guided tours are available every Tuesday to Friday during June, July and August and select Saturdays and Sundays. Places can be reserved for these tours at www.esb.ie/turloughhill and more information can be found here.

Wind Energy Development Guidelines – Noise and Shadow Flicker Consultation

12th February 2014

Minister for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan TD, announced on the 11th of December 2013, the commencement of a public consultation process on proposed revisions to the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines focusing on the issues of noise (including distance) and shadow flicker.

The revised noise and shadow flicker sections of the Wind Energy Development Guidelines being put out for public consultation proposes;

  • The setting of a more stringent absolute noise limit (day and night) of 40 decibels (dB) for future wind energy developments. This limit is an outdoor limit, in general the reduction of noise levels between the outside of a dwelling and inside would be approximately 10 decibels.
  • A mandatory setback of 500 metres between a wind turbine and the nearest dwelling for amenity considerations.
  • A condition be attached to all future planning permissions for wind farms to ensure that there will be no shadow flicker at any dwelling within 10 rotor diameters of a wind turbine. If shadow flicker does occur, the wind energy developer or operator will be required to take necessary measures, such as turbine shut down for the period necessary, to eliminate the shadow flicker.

 

The proposed revisions to the guidelines and the Marshall Day Acoustics noise study are available online at www.environ.ie in addition to information on making written submissions during the public consultation period.

Submissions on the consultation are due in by the 21st of February 2014 and can be e-mailed to windsubmissions@environ.ie.

Earth.nullschool.net – Interactive Global Wind Flow Map

2nd January 2014

A Tokyo based software engineer, Cameron Beccario, has created an online interactive global wind flow map, that offers a fresh and artistic view of actual global wind flow data.

Based on a US wind map designed by Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, the online tool offers current and historical images of wind flows all over the earth. The wind speed data is taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the National Weather Service and streams it into an animated view of the globe. The map updates every three hours, showing near-current weather patterns worldwide where you can spin the map like a globe, zoom in on a particular region or view wind flows at different altitudes above the earth’s surface.

Below is a snapshot of Ireland during a storm on the 27th of December 2013 that cut electricity power supplies to over 65,000 people as well as causing substantial damage and flooding throughout Ireland and the UK.

Eurelectric – Power Distribution in Europe – Facts and Figures

9th December 2013

Eurelectric, the sector association which represents the common interests of the electricity industry at pan-European level, has recently published an information brochure on Power Distribution in Europe.

The brochure gives great insight into Distribution System Operators in each of the EU countries and reveals some interesting facts and figures from different points of view regarding DSOs in each country.

ESB and Eirgrid Resources – Electricity network maps

12th November 2013

Both the Irish Distribution System Operator (ESB Networks) and Transmission System Operator (Eirgrid) provide online mapping resources of the electricity network in Ireland. Both these resources offer a great level of detail and information to the general public and also people with business interests in the electricity infrastructure of Ireland.

The ESB interactive network maps ( give an overview of both Medium and High Voltage networks with background mapping to give an indication of stations and line routes for 10kV, 20kV, 38kV and upwards.

NOTE: As of November 2015, the ESB Networks mapping links are not working. We suggest contacting ESB Networks directly for any further information or queries.

 


Eirgrid’s Transmission System Information section of their website offers an All-Island Transmission Map in pdf format which gives stations and line routes from 110kV upwards to 400kV.