ESB leading the low-carbon future through Emerging Technologies
New technologies are transforming Ireland's energy system, providing opportunities to harness sources such as solar, wind and storage to collectively create a clean electricity mix. While contributing to a low-carbon future, these technologies are also enabling customers to take control of their own energy generation and usage.
Wind energy is currently the largest contributing resource of renewable energy in Ireland. It is both Ireland’s largest and cheapest renewable electricity resource.
Onshore wind generation is a mature form of renewable generation. Over the years the technology has benefited from development and economies of scale in the size of turbines. Due to the fact that wind is variable, wind generation is classed as an intermittent source, with implications for its contribution to security of electricity supply.
Wind farms can be sited onshore or offshore. Onshore farms benefit from lower construction costs but can be constrained by social acceptability. Offshore facilities have more favourable wind conditions but cost more to build.
Wind – onshore and offshore - is expected to contribute 37% of the 40% renewable electricity target for 2020.
Energy storage has the ability to absorb surplus renewable generation at times when generation exceeds demand and release it when renewable generation output is low.
There are several types of storage including pumped storage, battery storage and thermal storage.
The limiting factor with using electrical or pumped storage in conjunction with renewable generation technologies is the scale required to store enough energy for a full day’s operation of the electricity system without wind (or strong sunshine).
As an example, we can consider the storage capacity required to store the average daily electrical energy requirement of the all-island single electricity market on a windy or sunny day for use the following dark or calm one.This would require a storage capacity equivalent to approximately 60 Turlough Hill pumped storage stations or 14 million Tesla Power Wall 18 version one batteries (six per household) or the batteries in some four million electric vehicles.
Tidal and wave energy technologies are still in the infancy stages of commercial development.
With Ireland’s vast ocean energy resources, ESB is confident that wave energy will form part of our future energy mix. Indeed, 20 per cent of our electricity needs could be provided by Ireland’s ocean resources.
Reflecting ESB's commitment to invest and innovate in emerging technologies to deliver low-carbon energy, we launched ESB Westwave. This is one of the first wave energy demo trials in the world taking place in Killard, off the coast of Co Clare.
The ESB Westwave project is world leading in its design knowledge development and knowledge sharing and we are collaborating closely with Irish universities and research teams including University College Dublin (UCD), National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) and University College Cork (UCC) on innovative wave measurements and models.