Earlier this week, wind energy temporarily exceeded the total electricity demand in Ireland for the first time ever.
In the early hours of September 26, wind generation reached a peak of 3,642 MW in the midst of Storm Agnes. Figures like these are not uncommon during storms. However, what made this occasion exceptional was that the 3,642 MW figure surpassed the electricity demand for the entire island.
Wind Energy Ireland’s Director of External Affairs, Justin Moran, described it as a significant accomplishment for Ireland’s wind farms. This achievement demonstrates the country’s potential to completely decarbonize its electricity system.
Overnight, #StormAgnes along with recent grid upgrades delivered something we've been waiting for a long time at @IrishEnergyBot: between about 1am and 4am Irish wind generation exceeded all-island electricity demand for the first time 🙌🍃⚡️🏅 pic.twitter.com/ymjUBLvRVZ
— Irish Energy Bot (@IrishEnergyBot) September 26, 2023
Nevertheless, the wind generation figure doesn’t tell the whole story. Currently, the Irish electricity grid is permitted to have a maximum of 75% renewables in its energy mix. As a result, some of the energy generated was exported, and the remaining demand was met using fossil fuels.
Ireland’s renewables limit has increased over the years. According to Euronews, it’s expected to reach 95% by 2030. Nonetheless, integrating electricity from multiple renewable sources and interconnectors poses significant technical challenges.
Earlier this month, Wind Energy Ireland announced that both July and August had set new monthly records for wind power generation. This is significant because it means Irish generators produced power without burning imported fossil fuels. This caused a reduction in carbon emissions and decreased dependence on fuel imports.
In August, wind energy generation increased by 71% compared to the same month last year. Moreover, the average wholesale price of electricity in the country was 72% lower than in August 2022.
The latest statistics indicate that Irish wind farms contributed 32% of the nation’s power in the first eight months of 2023.
On days with ample wind power, electricity prices decreased by an average of 5% to €88.34 per megawatt-hour. Conversely, on days heavily reliant on fossil fuels, the cost rose to €123.07 per megawatt-hour.
As Ireland continues to increase its wind power generation, consumers can expect to see energy bills drop.