April 30, 2020
Republic of Ireland expands storage investment
Professor Brian Sturgess

The pipeline of energy storage projects in the Republic of Ireland has reached 2.1GW in April 2020 according to the first release of a research report by trade publication Solar Media. The report also notes that an additional 330MW of projects are located in Northern Ireland. The total pipeline is made up of a diverse range of projects, including co-location with renewables, stand-alone and behind-the-meter storage. In contrast, in March the total pipeline of storage projects in the UK had reached 13.5 GW with 900MW of capacity installed in 2019. This means that battery storage investment in the Republic standing effectively at 428MW per million people is nearly double that of the UK at 203MW per million and well in excess of Northern Ireland at 175MW per million.

The increased investment in storage in Ireland is being driven by two forces. Under the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive the Republic committed itself to produce 16% of all energy sources from renewable sources by 2020 which was to be met by 12% by renewable heat, 10% from a renewable transport sector and an ambitious 40% from renewable electricity. The second driver is the proactive policy of Eirgrid, Ireland’s state-owned electricity grid operator which introduced the DS3 (Delivering a Secure Sustainable Electricity System) programme aimed at managing the increased amount of renewable generation connected to the grid resulting from the 2009 policy commitment. According to Eirgrid’s website “so far the DS3 programme has enabled EirGrid to increase levels of renewable generation on the system from 50% to 65%. This is a world-first. We aim to increase this gradually to 75% over the coming years.”

Ireland’s success in meeting its targets has created an urgent derived demand for storage. The DS3 programme recognised that the increasing reliance on non-synchronous electricity generation from volatile sources such as wind and solar meant that a safe and reliable delivery of electricity would require a parallel investment in  storage capacity. DS3 initially produced a sharp rise in new solar applications, but from 2017 there was an increasing number of planning applications for battery storage. The DS3 scheme allows the system operator to procure ancillary services, including frequency response and reserve services; the sub-second response needed means that batteries are well placed to provide these services.

Projects participating in the DS3 must be below 50MW and there were three successful projects in the first DS3 auction, two are 30MW and one is 50MW to receive six-year contracts to provide services to Eirgrid. These projects are due to begin providing services in 2021 and construction is expected to begin this year. In addition to DS3 opportunities, storage batteries will start to play a more significant role in the Irish Capacity Market Auctions, and there have already been projects participating in these auctions. 

There are currently 18 battery storage projects with a capacity of nearly 600MW, an average of 33MW including co-location investment with existing generation. For example, there is a t hybrid wind and storage project in Kerry with an 11MW battery, but over 50% of projects are over 20M with both planning permission approved and a grid-connection contract. Developers are currently are waiting to see the future path of the DS3 scheme according to Solar Media and weighing up other opportunities arising from the capacity market or merchant trading.


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