EirGrid: Rethinking the traditional approach to power system operations

Company DescriptionBusiness in the Community Ireland

EirGrid plc is a leading Irish energy business, dedicated to the provision of transmission and market services for the benefit of electricity consumers. It is a state-owned commercial company.


Business Issue

At its core, our DS3 (Delivering a Secure and Sustainable Power System) programme is to ensure the secure integration of increasing amounts of variable renewable generation onto the grid in Ireland and Northern Ireland.  In order to achieve our legally binding 40% renewable electricity target by 2020, Ireland must install approximately 5,500 MW of renewable generation, mainly wind.  This development has required us to fundamentally rethink our traditional approach to power system operations because integrating renewable energy generation on the power system impacts on its secure operation.

Solution Applied

EirGrid is in the process of reviewing the commercial arrangements and technical standards for all generation on the system to maximise its performance.  We are developing new operational policies and tools to integrate more renewable energy on the system including a 25-person in-house project team to address the operational management of variable renewable energy supplies that use different technologies. This is being achieved through the introduction of a combination of improved forecasting, increased control capability and new operational strategies.  Our initiative includes a range of regular internal and external workshops and Industry Forums to communicate our progress and receive feedback from relevant stakeholders. An advisory Council comprising representatives from across the electricity industry has also been established.

Company Benefits

This initiative will ensure that as operators of the Irish electricity system we will have the necessary technologies and systems in place to operate the system with 40% renewable energy by 2020.  No other synchronous system manages the same levels of wind penetration (50%) seen today, much less the target of being able to safely and securely manage real-time penetration levels of 75% by 2020.  We are at the forefront of solving many challenges which other countries have not experienced yet.  The combination of the All Island grid studies, EirGrid’s Grid25 programme, the Facilitation of Renewables studies and a comprehensive analysis of the long-term needs of the power system conducted in 2011, form the backbone of our plans to facilitate the 40% target by 2020.

Stakeholder Benefits 

In addition to the essential role of stakeholders in informing the integration of renewables to Ireland’s energy supply, at the level of national reputation, EirGrid is already managing world leading percentage levels of renewable generation on the power system. Indeed, at particular times, wind generation has produced enough power to meet 50% of electricity demand and has even reached a high of 37% of total daily electricity demand in Ireland. More renewable generation in Ireland benefits the environment and benefits Ireland by reducing its carbon emissions.  The work which EirGrid has completed in this area will also assist other countries that face similar challenges.


The key message from our analysis and previous studies is that the 2020 renewable targets are achievable.  However, significant work is required to manage the integration of very high levels of instantaneous renewable penetration on the island.  The main operational areas to be addressed are the management of the system frequency, balancing the system in real time, managing system voltage and ensuring the compliance of plant with the Grid Code requirements.


Engage early with relevant stakeholders and affected parties to deliver a workable solution.


Further Information

Jon O’ Sullivan, Operations Sustainable Power Systems, Jon.O’Sullivan@eirgrid.com

Link to Video of Practice




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