To help plan and the develop energy networks for the future, both EirGrid and Gas Networks Ireland produce ten year network development plans. EirGrid also produces a ten year Generation Capacity Statement and a ten year All-Island Transmission Forecast Statement. The network development plans and statements are future looking documents that allow both EirGrid and Gas Networks Ireland to assess the energy networks in Ireland to, among other things, ensure the lights stay on, and the gas continues to flow.

In addition, as Ireland transitions itself to a low carbon economy, the gas and electricity networks must be planned and developed to make the transition as smooth as possible. As we make the transition the energy networks in Ireland will face many challenges.  For example, as the penetration of electricity generated from wind increases the electricity network must be flexible to handle the unpredictability of wind while still operating in a secure manner. The increased penetration of wind energy also has an impact on Ireland’s gas network. To help overcome the challenges there are a number of innovative initiatives in place, such as the DS3 Programme, Biomethane injection and compressed natural gas vehicles.

Future statements and plans

The Network Development Plan (Gas)

Every year the CRU holds a public consultation on Gas Networks Ireland's Network Development Plan. The CRU's public consultation gives stakeholders the opportunity to express their views on the Network Development Plan.

The Network Development Plan presents Gas Networks Ireland's view of the future needs of the gas network in Ireland. It also presents Gas Network Ireland's plan to meet the needs of the network over a ten year period. The Network Development Plan includes, among other things, investment needs, planned network investment, supply and demand forecasts. The most recent Network Development Plan can be found on the Gas Networks Ireland website

The Transmission Development Plan (Electricity) - 

Every year the CRU holds a public consultation on EirGrid's Transmission Development Plan. The CRU's public consultation gives stakeholders the opportunity to express their views on the Transmission Development Plan.

The Transmission Development Plan presents EirGrid's view of future electricity transmission network needs. It also presents EirGrid's plan to meet the needs of the transmission network over a ten year period. The development plan includes, among other things, investment needs and planned network development.  The most recent approved Transmission Development Plan can be found on the EirGrid website.

The All-Island Ten Year Transmission Forecast Statement

The CRU and the Utility Regulator in Northern Ireland approve the format of the All-Island Ten Year Transmission Forecast Statement.

The All-Island Ten Year Transmission Forecast Statement is developed by EirGrid and SONI (the Electricity System operator for Northern Ireland). The All-Island Ten Year Transmission Forecast Statement includes, among other things, forecast of transmission peaks, the transmission capability for new generation and the transmission capability for new demand.  The most recent All-Island Transmission Forecast Statement can be found on the EirGrid website.

The Generation Capacity Statement 

The CRU reviews the EirGrid's Generation Capacity Statement and provides comments to EirGrid. The CRU has no formal role in approving the Generation Capacity Statement.

The Generation Capacity Statement includes, among other things, demand forecasts, changes to generation capacity and adequacy assessments.  The most recent Generation Capacity Statement can be found on the EirGrid website.

Security of Supply

The network development plans and statements provide the CRU with essential data that allows us to fulfil our security of supply reporting and monitoring obligations, for both electricity and gas.

DS3

While EirGrid lead the DS3 programme, the CRU oversees and supports the implementation of the Programme.

EirGrid has statutory responsibilities in Ireland in relation to the economic purchase of
services necessary to support the secure operation of the system; these services are
known as ancillary services. Ancillary services can be described as products, other than energy, that are required to ensure the secure operation of the transmission system. EirGrid had ancillary services contracts in place with a number of generators, in total seven services were purchased by EirGrid.

The ancillary services framework has been revised through the DS3 Programme. The aim of the DS3 programme is to meet the challenges of operating the electricity system in a secure manner while achieving the 2020 renewable electricity targets.

It is expected the DS3 Programme will:

  • Improve the safety and stability of the electricity system and improve security of supply;
  • Reduce electricity costs for consumers;
  • Encourage investment in the technologies and generators that provide the most value to the system
  • Facilitate Ireland and Northern Ireland achieving their renewables targets

More information on the DS3 Programme can be found on the EirGrid website

Innovation

Electric Vehicles

Integration of the energy and transport sectors is expected to increase over the coming decades through the integration of electric vehicles and alternative fuels into the transport sector. This move is expected to be particularly strong in Europe due to the leading role the EU has taken in relation to areas such as energy efficiency, promotion of renewable energy and climate change.

Biomethane

Biomethane is a renewable gas that can be injected into the natural gas grid. The injection of biomethane has the potential to increase security of supply and decrease carbon emissions. The CRU recognises these potential benefits of biomethane injection and anticipates that a percentage of gas passing through the natural gas network will be biomethane in the near future.

CNG

Compressed Natural Gas or CNG is an alternative fuel to petrol and diesel. CNG-use in transport is likely to develop across the EU over the coming years as a result of Member States’ requirement for availability of alternative fuels for transport, reduced emissions versus other fossil fuels and the currently available positive price differential between natural gas and oil-linked transport fuels.

Projects of common interest

Under EU Regulation 347/2013 (Guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure), the EU Commission is mandated with drawing up a list of infrastructure projects, referred to as Projects of Common Interest , to further the sustainability, resilience and integration of the EU’s internal energy market. The Projects of Common Interest list, which is developed every two years  and is derived from submissions from project promoters to the EU Commission.

The CRU's role, into the EU Commission’s PCI review process, is by providing assessments of projects’ feasibility, maturity and impact where relevant to Ireland.

For more information on Projects of Common Interest please see the EU Commission Projects of Common Interest web page available here