Built Environment (bE): Exploring The Potential Of Demand Side Management (DSM) In Ireland

With electricity use across Ireland set to soar in the coming decade, we look at the role battery storage and Demand Side Management (DSM) will have in keeping the lights on.

EirGrid is the state-owned operator of the electricity grid. In its latest annual predictive analysis ‘Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios’, it estimates energy use in Ireland could grow by 8 to 16 TWh by 2030. Based on consumption levels today, that equates to an increase of up to 55%.

This growing demand for power comes at the same time as Ireland mirrors many other developed nations by attempting to transition to low carbon generation. Coal, oil and peat-powered plants will shut over the coming decade.

So how will operators such as EirGrid, or National Grid here in the UK, manage to keep the network balanced and ensure supply meets demand?

We explain all in the latest edition of Built Environment (bE), a magazine focusing on the construction sector on the island of Ireland.

Demand Side Management & Smart Energy Grids

The answer lies in smart grids connecting several smaller distributed energy generators to form a sophisticated network that adapts to supply and demand fluctuations in real-time.

This relies on energy users being encouraged to shift their consumption from busy to quieter off-peak times, what’s commonly known as Demand Side Response (DSR). In Ireland, this concept is also known as Demand Side Management (DSM), but the principle is broadly the same.

EirGrid operates several DSM schemes aimed at medium and large-sized organisations. There’s Powersave, which requires facilities to turn down demand in return for payments based on the kWh reduction in use.

In addition, there’s Short Term Active Response (STAR). In effect, this incentivises businesses to voluntarily have their power cut during times of grid stress.

Energy-intensive organisations can also participate in Demand Side Units (DSUs) either collectively through a third-party DSM aggregator, or on their own if they are able to cut consumption by at least 10 MW.

In return for capacity payments, are obliged to be able to reduce demand at one hour’s notice and maintain it for a minimum of two hours.

In general, DSUs deploy a combination of on-site generation i.e. renewables with energy storage along with strategic shutdown of plant and equipment.

Batt To The Future

It was just a few months ago in August when battery storage provided a glimpse of its potential. Two power plants went offline, leading to UK grid frequency dropping below safe levels.

Nearly a million customers (around 5% of the total supplies) were cut off to protect the network from a complete shutdown. Supplies were restored within the hour thanks to National Grid’s 1 GW of reserve power, of which battery storage made up almost half (475 MW).

As electricity networks transition from fossil fuels to more unpredictable renewables-led zero carbon sources, this type of energy storage will prove crucial. It won’t just be there to save the day in times of emergency. It’ll play a day-to-day role in keeping the lights on.

So much so that EirGrid estimates Demand Side Management capacity in Ireland could hit 700 MW in five years, rising to as high as 1,000 MW by 2040. It claims battery storage will contribute 200 MW to this by 2025 and 500 MW by 2040.