The importance of weather on Ireland’s future energy supply

Ireland is currently undergoing strong winds of change in its energy system. While major developments have been made already to integrate renewables into our electricity network, there are big questions about how best to plan for different ways of using energy in future.

Research is underway into how to manage the combination of consumer demand and variable supply from renewables, and in particular, their mutual dependence on weather. One emerging approach is to use large-scale pressure patterns to generalise demand and renewable supply scenarios, and thereby make the best use of renewables in future electricity systems.

We are moving from a traditional, fossil-fuel based energy system where electricity generation is fully flexible and can be altered at short notice to meet supply, to one where an increasing proportion of generation comes from less flexible renewable sources. To address the issue of climate change and maintain a global temperature increase of less than 2°C, Europe wants to reduce energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 percent by 2050. In line with this, Ireland is bound by an EU target of generating 16 percent of its total energy (40 percent of its electricity) from renewable sources by 2020. As of 2016, the actual figure was 9.5 percent of energy (27.3 percent of electricity), mostly from wind power.

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