The Irish Electricity Market

The Electricity Supply Board (ESB) is eighty years old this year. It was founded in 1927, the same year my father was born. It is hard for me to imagine that as a young child he did not have electricity at home. Up to that point electricity was generated by city corporations for local distribution. The development of the Shannon hydroelectric scheme and the creation of the national transmission grid that resulted triggered the Irish government into forming a single state owned monopoly for electrical generation and transmission. In Ireland, electricity and the ESB became synonymous. Most people in Ireland still view this as the market situation but times have changed considerably.

The European Union (EU) directive 96/92/EC, published in 1996, required member states to open their electricity markets. From the year 2000 this directive is being gradually implemented in Ireland. The ESB lost its monopoly on electricity production and distribution in Ireland. The ESB was divided into two separate business units, ESB Generation and ESB Networks. ESB Generation now competes as any other wholesale elctricity generation company in the state. ESB Networks maintains the distribution network.

Once the ESB monopoly was broken, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) became the overall regulator of the Irish energy market including electricity. A new organisation EirGrid was founded to act as the  System Operator and the wholesale market operator for electricity in Ireland.

How does this new structure affect the regulation and administration of EDM projects, existing or proposed, in Ireland? Any EDM projects must be initiated and licensed by the CER and must be operated by EirGrid.

In order to facilitate wind energy penetration, EDM must be real time. The only real time EDM in Ireland is STAR and that is limited in size, is currently closed to new entrants, and is designed to assist in rare cases of generation plant failure. Obviously if I am to implement an EDM business in Ireland I will need the necessary regulatory and administrative procedures to be implemented bt CER and EirGrid. The question is therefore, how disposed to EDM are CER and EirGrid.  The following link answers that question:-

CER are planning to implement a pilot Demand Side Management (DSM) project involving smart metering and time of day tariffs. Surprisingly the discussion document in the above link does not mention wind energy at all. I think that this is because the project is in response to initiatives at a European level and it is only in the Irish context that EDM takes on a specific signifiacance in relationship to wind energy.

Also you will notice that CER use the acronym DSM while I use the acronym EDM. Do these mean the same thing? From the published literature, demand side management appears to be a very broad term that includes all kinds of energy efficiency projects at the consumer. DSM includes EDM as a subset. Energy demand mangement is specifically about the real time generation, curtailment and consumption of electricity to achieve grid stability.