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Tilted – high pricing in the Balancing Market

Evie Doherty Senior Consultant (Ireland)

Since the launch of the new SEM market a topic which has undergone a great deal of scrutiny, discussion and investigation (not least by Cornwall Insight Ireland) has concerned the Balancing Market, and specifically how the balancing price (aka Imbalance Settlement Price) is calculated. The balancing market has been volatile and subject to some surprises such as €1.4k/MWh prices on 9 October 2018 due to a system event, and several balancing pricing disputes being upheld. The price on 9 October was due to a system event in Northern Ireland (NI) with two out of three baseload plants tripping, causing an amber alert and high priced offers from generation units contributing to high balancing prices. The system operators conducted a full investigation into the event and were satisfied that the balancing market was operating correctly following its design. The latest twist in the tale occurred last week on 24 January when at 11.41am SONI (System Operator in Northern Ireland) issued an amber alert due to generation losses in NI. The alert was raised due to an unplanned outage of a plant in combination with low levels of renewables. The Moyle interconnector was exporting electricity due to demand in GB and constraints on the North-South tie-in between Ireland and NI limited the amount of electricity which could be imported into NI. The highest balancing prices recorded this day peaked at €3774/MWh; more than double the highest price seen previously since market go-live. In this week’s chart we look at the prices ...

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