Electricity transmission towers

The full consultation will be open until Friday, 16th February 2024 and can be found here.

The strategy, mandated in Climate Action Plan 2023, will consider the options on how all customer groups can bring greater flexibility to their energy consumption, leading to decarbonisation, enhanced security of supply, and lower system costs.

Objective is to incentivise greater flexibility and decarbonisation of electricity usage by all customer groups in our growing economy. Results of Call for Evidence from Stakeholders Highlights Scale of Ambition of Strategy Objectives. Cross Government and cross-agency approach in Energy, Enterprise, Environmental, Spatial and Planning policy is likely to be required to deliver National Energy Demand Strategy objectives.

The CRU is committed to the twin goals of decarbonisation and digitalisation as outlined in Government policy. Furthermore, we recognise Ireland as being a world leader in digital and ICT technologies, and in the R&D and manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and other sectors.

This consultation, and the open call for evidence that preceded it, is targeted at identifying the measures by which Ireland can meet our legally binding carbon budgets, while facilitating further economic growth, acting in concert with industry’s own clear ambition to decarbonise. However, this stage of the process requires all to move from long term ambition and statement of intent to more specific, actionable short and medium-term measures.

The CRU is calling on all stakeholders, including consumers, industry, Government Departments, semi-state entities and agencies for continued engagement as we move to this next stage in the consultative process. This will support the identification of the means by which we can achieve the goal of decarbonising our economic growth, and the cross-government policy, regulatory and other cross-agency measures required to enable this necessary decarbonisation.

The CRU notes that the associated Large Energy User Connections Policy Consultation will be published in January.

The National Energy Demand Strategy

For Ireland to meet its carbon emissions targets, as set out in the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2023 (CAP23), it will be necessary for electricity and gas demand to become more flexible. Demand flexibility will allow energy customers to optimise their use of renewable generation by shifting demand from periods of high carbon to low carbon intensity generation on the electricity grid.

The objective of the National Energy Demand Strategy (NEDS) is to facilitate a co-ordinated approach across all relevant public bodies working to increase demand flexibility. This will allow Ireland to decarbonise its economic growth, support energy customers having more control over when they use energy, and to move their consumption to times when renewable generation is available, as energy demand is expected to increase in Ireland over the next number of years.

In order to realise the strategy vision, actions will need to be taken across energy; enterprise; environmental; spatial and planning policy; regulatory; and other decisions will need to be taken across Government departments, local authorities, enterprise development agencies and other public bodies.

The strategy will consider the options on how all customer groups can be incentivised or facilitated to bring greater flexibility to their energy consumption, leading to decarbonisation, enhanced security of supply, and lower system costs.

Call For Evidence Responses

The CRU initially published four papers for consultation and feedback as part of the NEDS – Call for Evidence package in June 2023. This initiated the first stage of the NEDS and requested guidance from relevant industry and consumer stakeholders on the proposed key areas of focus and to establish areas of innovation that may be included in the overall consultation.

The initial responses received to the Call for Evidence reflected both the ambition of the strategy and the realisation of the challenge by stakeholders that even greater demand reduction and flexibility to contribute towards achieving the CAP23 targets will be required.

While some respondents generally advocated for a more moderate pace to the implementation of demand flexibility measures, the majority recognised the urgent need to address the climate challenge.  Many identified challenges with the ambitious rapid implementation of a new strategy due to the potential impact on commercial operations and potential for economic growth.

Some of the more significant suggestions from stakeholders included broadening the scope of the NEDS to include Demand Side Units (DSUs) participating in the Single Electricity Market (SEM), the potential for electrification of industrial heat and a broader role for storage solutions, such as batteries, in the NEDS.

Commenting on the next phase of consultation, Phil Hemmingway, Director of Decarbonisation at the CRU said: “Finding a way to balance grid infrastructure, renewable energy generation and emissions limitations with increasing levels of demand for electricity represents a significant challenge, particularly in the short to medium term. The initial feedback from stakeholders at this early stage has provided valuable insights into both the opportunities that exist for industries and customer groups to develop more flexible demand, but also the challenges that such an ambitious undertaking presents. 

The integration of higher levels of renewable generation onto our system, while managing an increasing demand for electricity, will require meaningful changes for certain customer groups. At this point in the process, we are mapping a clearer pathway on what these changes might be and how Government policy can positively shape this strategy in terms of planning and implementation of this National Energy Demand Strategy.”