Journal Article

Should Coal Replace Coal? Options for the Irish Electricity Market

December 14, 2012

The Economic and Social Review, Vol. 43, No. 4, Winter 2012, pp. 561-596

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The Moneypoint coal plant is nearing the end of its useful life and will need to be replaced. For Moneypoint's replacement, we consider different types of baseload technologies: coal plants with and without carbon capture, combined-cycle gas plants and a nuclear plant. This paper compares how the different types of plant are likely to affect the net costs of the Single Electricity Market under a number of fossil fuel and carbon price scenarios and highlights their effects on short-run prices, emissions and energy security. We find that none of the plants considered is optimal over the full range of fuel and carbon scenarios considered and examine the advantages and disadvantages of delaying the decision. We also discuss why the commissioning of a nuclear plant is unlikely in Ireland in the near future.