Page 26 - European Energy Innovation - Summer 2017 publication
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26  Summer 2017 European Energy Innovation


A network for Ireland’s low
carbon future

“The Irish are renowned worldwide for their
                       friendliness. However, despite that reputation
                       for affability, we seem to prefer living as far away
                       from one another as possible.” So says Marguerite
          Sayers, Managing Director of ESB Networks, the electricity
          distribution operator in the Republic of Ireland, explaining
          one of the challenges of delivering electricity infrastructure
          in Ireland.

Ms Sayers explains that Ireland’s scattered population made                  The control centre (above)
the electrification of rural Ireland, which took place between               and Marguerite Sayers,
1946 and 1976, a phenomenal undertaking. “It has been                        Managing Director, ESB
described by historians as ‘the quiet revolution’, given the                 Networks
lasting societal impact the arrival of electricity had on lives in
homes, farms and villages across rural Ireland.”                             transport will be key to
                                                                             Ireland’s transition to a low
ESB Networks has been building on that proud legacy, in                      carbon future. “We are
an understated but determined fashion. “Today, about one                     working on trials to assess
third of Ireland’s population live outside of cities and towns,              the impact this increased
which creates challenges for ESB Networks. As such, Ireland                  electrification is likely to
has four times the European average of length of network                     have on our low voltage
per capita,” says Ms Sayers.                                                 system. The Plangrid EV
                                                                             project, again funded by Horizon 2020, looks at distribution
ESB Networks has invested €6bn in the electricity system in                  grid planning and operational principles for mass electric
recent years, driven by Ireland’s commitment to source 40                    vehicle roll-out while enabling distributed energy resource
percent of electricity requirements from renewable sources                   integration.”
by 2020. “Part of this project focused on our low voltage
network, converting 50,000 km of 10kV network to 20kV                        And staying with mass EV roll-out, Ms Sayers outlines the
operation. As well as doubling the capacity of the network,                  separate SUCCESS project which concentrates on the
the conversion resulted in energy loss savings equivalent                    potential cyber risks posed by the public charging network
of taking 15,000 cars off the road and constitutes the single                and how the network can remain secure.
largest energy efficiency project ever undertaken in Ireland.”
                                                                             A wave of world-class companies have located to Ireland with
ESB Networks has to-date connected more than 3,000MW                         the confidence that the electricity infrastructure will meet their
of renewables to the system (which has an annual peak load                   needs. This has enabled Ireland to become a world leader
of circa 5,000MW), much of this onshore wind farms located                   in industry and technology, transforming beyond recognition
in remote locations on Ireland’s western seaboard. Ms                        the rural, agrarian society of 70 years ago.
Sayers outlines the on-going European Union collaboration
– primarily through Horizon 2020 funding - for many ESB                      “As we look to a low carbon future powered by a smart
Networks projects. “With a current TSO operational limit in                  electricity grid, we continue to serve our 2.3 million
Ireland at 60 per cent instantaneous penetration renewable                   industrial, commercial and domestic electricity customers
generation, we are part of the EU RESERVE project that is                    with pride,” Ms Sayers concludes.
exploring how to stabilise the electricity system for up to
100 percent renewables.”                                                     The quiet revolution continues. l

Through a separate EU project, EvolvDSO, ESB Networks                          Contact details:
is developing the tools to accommodate the growing                   
distributed renewable energy sources in the generation mix,
and the increasingly proactive demand for electricity.

Ms Sayers goes on to explain that, as we reduce electricity
generation emissions, the electrification of heat and

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