New research shows aligned renewable energy targets for Ireland and Northern Ireland supports more efficient electricity dispatch system

New research conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute and produced in partnership with the Shared Island unit in the Department of the Taoiseach has found that aligned renewable energy targets in Ireland and Northern Ireland support lower costs across the island.

The research simulates the costs of electricity system operation and investment with separate renewable energy targets in each jurisdiction and compares them to the impact of aligned targets in each jurisdiction, which pertain at present, with Ireland and Northern Ireland now having the same 80% renewable electricity target by 2030.

The research found that these aligned targets can lead to lower costs across the island. There is a slight decrease in the profitability of renewable generation, but this arises as a result of lower prices across the market, and a net gain for consumers. The report also found that aligned targets lead to higher deployment of renewable energy generation in Northern Ireland and higher investment in storage in Ireland.

The research also considered scenarios with and without an operational North-South interconnector. The interconnector is a 400kV transmission line which will run between the two jurisdictions and lead to greater connectivity between the two systems. When the North-South interconnector is in place, it will facilitate greater energy transmission between the two jurisdictions, reducing the requirement to invest in storage. The interconnector would also reduce the number of network upgrades needed.

Commenting on the report, Niall Farrell of the ESRI said “To date, consumers in the Integrated-Single Electricity Market on the island of Ireland have benefitted from the alignment of renewable energy policy in each jurisdiction. Our research shows that continued alignment will continue to benefit consumers, while the construction of the North-South interconnector will facilitate these benefits.”

Muireann Lynch of the ESRI commented: “This research shows the importance of long-run modelling for the electricity system on the island of Ireland. While these results reflect a least-cost, best case scenario outcome, it is for policy makers and regulators to ensure that the market and regulatory environments facilitate such co-operation across the market in order to realise the full benefit of renewable energy targets and investment for consumers.”