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I-SEM Chart of the Week

2018

Don’t you (forget about me): a future without coal in SEM?

James Goldsmith Senior Consultant (Ireland)

Record setting daily wind generation output, increasing installed wind capacity and new renewable electricity support schemes all make for great headlines. However, the reality that 42% of generation in SEM last month came from renewables doesn’t feel like the exception, but the rule.   This high, and importantly, consistent wind output has come at a time when the grid could have been under a high amount of stress, as all three of Moneypoint’s coal-fired units have been out of action due to a forced outage. Interestingly, this may give us a preview of what SEM will look like in the mid 2020’s, when Moneypoint is due to cease operations. Slow change may pull us apart This week’s chart shows the generation mix breakdown over November. The first item of note is the lack of output from coal generation, at just 3%. An unusual position for SEM, due to system constraints. That 3% compares with the fuel providing 17% of all generation in 2017 according to EirGrid’s capacity statement; the majority from Moneypoint. The first inclination is to assume that the decrease in coal generation been made up for by simply replacing it with gas-fired generation. But gas typically averages ~49% of the fuel mix on an all-island basis, and only generated 45% of the total last month. The good news story, then, is that for the duration of Moneypoint’s outage renewables have supplied the bulk of electricity needed to replace it. This shows the capability that ...

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