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.
Ireland's geographical position and climate determine that
it is one of the best locations in the world for marine renewables including
tidal, wave and of course fixed and floating off-shore wind. This local natural
resource-based opportunity is backed up by Government policy initiatives to
develop the industry - the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan and
Climate Action Plan in the Republic of Ireland and the Offshore Renewable
Energy Strategic Action Plan in Northern Ireland. Moreover, Ireland has
developed significant test facilities to support the sector including the 1/4
scale test site at SmartBay in Galway, the Lir National Ocean Test Facility in
Cork and the SEAI Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site at Belmullet Co. Mayo.