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Let’s talk about flex: the flexibility dilemma

Ruth Young Training Consultant

In this week’s SEM Chart of the Week, we consider the recent refusal of planning permission for the construction of a 208MW open cycle gas turbine (OCGT) "peaker" power plant in Co Meath. While the project would assist in ensuring and maintaining security of supply in the region, the plant was intended to run on distillate oil so ultimately was refused planning permission due to its impact on greenhouse gas emissions. This raises the interesting dilemma that the need for increased flexibility to accommodate the integration of renewables on the network and the drive for decarbonisation of generation don’t always go hand in hand. I don’t think they’re going to play this on the radio In order to achieve the government’s ambitious decarbonisation targets, the grid network must be able to accommodate 95% instantaneous penetration from non-synchronous renewable energy sources (SNSP) by 2030. This requires improvements to infrastructure and significant levels of flexibility to ensure the electricity system is stable and supply is secure. Flexibility is the ability to respond to both expected and unexpected changes in demand and generation and can be provided in a number of ways, such as increased grid capacity, system services, interconnection, demand side management and fast acting and controllable generation such as the proposed distillate oil OCGT “peaker” plant in Meath. Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios (TES) System Needs Assessment, identifies future infrastructure needs which arise from changes in the usage of the grid, ...

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