How do we make sure that we always have enough imported fuels to generate our electricity?
By not depending too much on a single fuel or source of supply we can help to make sure we have a reliable supply of affordable energy to generate electricity in Ireland. Having a variety of fuels (fuel mix) in electricity generation helps; where we hold stocks as we do for coal and oil it helps even more. A minimum of 90 days oil requirement for use in the event of a physical shortage of supplies is stored and managed by the National Oil Reserves Agency 1. Finally, by supplementing fuel imports with the capacity to import electricity directly from Britain and from Northern Ireland, we can ensure we have a reliable supply of electricity.
That is why even though Moneypoint emits a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions by burning coal, we still use coal. Without coal in the mix we could be too dependent on a single source; gas, on which we already rely for nearly half of our electricity. In the absence of a large indigenous gas find, allowing Ireland to become too dependent on imported natural gas for electricity could expose us to greater price, energy security, and competitiveness risks with far-reaching consequences 2.
The same is true for our peat stations. Peat is one of our few indigenous sources of solid fuel. In case of us not being able to import as much gas or coal as we need, peat provides us with a back-up fuel source that we can rely on to generate electricity. One of the peat stations, Edenderry Power, has introduced co-firing of biomass from Irish and international sources 3.
The Corrib gas field is expected to supply up to 56% of our gas needs in 2016, reducing into the next decade but replacing much imported gas and ensuring that we have secure gas supply arrangements in place into the mid-2020s 4.
Further deployment of new indigenous and renewable sources of energy for power generation such as wind, biomass and solar will reduce our import dependence, contribute to meeting our greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and create employment.