Ireland Records New Record Peaks for Electricity Demand Due to Cold Weather

EirGrid, responsible for operating, developing and enhancing the electricity grid and market, has confirmed that Ireland recorded new record peaks for electricity demand this week due to the cold weather.

On Thursday evening (18th January) at 5.50pm, electricity demand reached a record peak of 5577 megawatts (MW). This breached other peaks in electricity demand recorded on Monday and Wednesday of this week. Before this week, the previous record peak demand of 5544 MW occurred on the 14th of December 2022.

EirGrid operates the electricity grid from a National Control Centre in Dublin, carrying out the complex task of matching electricity supply to customer demand in real time. User demand varies on a daily, weekly and seasonal basis.

While record demand peaks in January are less common than December, the very low temperatures this week drove the increased demand. EirGrid estimates that for every 1°C decrease in the outside temperature, about 40 MW in extra electricity is required at peak demand, or approximately 50 MW when wind chill is considered.

Despite the cold weather, good sunshine over the week allowed for an impressive amount of solar generation onto the grid for January, peaking at 249 MW of grid connection solar generation at 12.30 pm on Wednesday. This supplied 5% of the system demand in Ireland at that time.

While EirGrid manages the grid in real time, it is also responsible for leading Ireland’s transition to a low carbon future, so that up to 80% of electricity can come from renewables by 2030. To achieve this, more renewable generators need to be connected to the power system. The balancing of supply and demand becomes more complex as more variable renewables, like wind and solar, come onto the grid, so upgrades, enhancements and new projects are required.

Diarmaid Gillespie, Director of System Operations at EirGrid said:

“Ensuring there is sufficient generation to meet electricity demand is a challenging task, as generation must match the demand at all times for the power system to remain secure. Unsurprisingly, demand reached a new evening peak this week given the very low temperatures. Good generation availability, interconnection imports from Great Britain, and some wind generation meant this task went smoothly this week despite the record demand for electricity. This weekend we expect to return to very high levels of wind generation as the cold snap finishes and we return to more stormy conditions.”