New record for Irish Wind Generation!

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A record 4,629MW of wind power was generated in Ireland on 6th December 2023. This post from the ElectroRoute Trading team provides insights into the weather and system conditions that contributed to this impressive record.

On 6th December 2023, Ireland generated 4,629 MW of wind energy instantaneously, surpassing the previous record set in February 2022. This record, while another achievement for renewable electricity integration into the Irish electricity grid, was noteworthy for the ease that the Irish system was able to accommodate such high levels of wind generation, and this blog post explores some of the factors that contributed to that.

The high winds were caused by three low-pressure systems located directly off the west coast. Our generation forecasts at Day Ahead indicated that there would be over 4 GW of available wind for most parts of the day, with 5.3 GW possibly available around 14:00. Irish electricity demand was also forecast to be high over the day due to cold temperatures, peaking at 6.7 GW.

In GB temperatures were even cooler and there was lower wind generation, leading to high residual demand there. It was therefore likely that Ireland would be exporting for the whole day, and so it proved, as shown below.  These factors combined meant that the chances of large amounts of dispatch down of wind in Ireland were slim, and that the grid would remain stable even with a lot of renewable electricity generation.

The previous record wind generation of 4,610 MW was exceeded several times throughout the day, with Ireland’s wind generation peaking at 4,629MW at 16:00. Actual and predicted wind generation are displayed in the graph below (from EirGrid). For several hours during the day, the TSO accommodated more than 4.5 GW of wind power generation on the grid.

The below graph shows the wind output, the dispatch down and the “available wind” (the sum of output and dispatch down). Also shown below is a graph of the SNSP level over the day, taken from EirGrid’s dashboard. It is interesting to note that for such high levels of wind generation, there was very little dispatch down and SNSP levels remained relatively low, at just 60 – 65% during the period when generation was above 4.5 GW. The work EirGrid has done in allowing the SNSP limit to increase to 75% has meant that even during record wind generation, we had room to accommodate even more renewable generation on the system.

The SNSP level was helped as we were exporting power to GB. In a situation where we had in fact been importing power, a rough calculation would indicate that we could only have accommodated ~3.8 GW of wind generation on the system on the 6th December, highlighting the importance of increasing interconnection to Europe and GB if Ireland wants to meet its renewable energy targets.

This noteworthy accomplishment fits in well with Ireland’s renewable energy goals, which requires the country to produce 80% of its annual electricity demand from renewable sources by 2030, and with increased renewable generation capacity, further interconnection with GB & Europe and a continually rising SNSP limit, it is likely that Ireland will regularly break its wind generation record over the coming months and years.

As always, please get in touch with the ElectroRoute team of renewable energy experts for all your energy trading needs –