Eirgrid’s real-time trials to test network for renewable tech

Eirgrid, the semi-State company that operates the country’s electricity network, is to start real-time trials that will assess how new and existing energy technology and be effectively integrated into the grid.

The government has set a plan that 70pc of Ireland’s electricity must be produced from renewable sources by 2030.

“This poses challenges to traditional system operation and new technology integration,” noted Eirgrid in a request for tenders published this week as it advances its so-called Qualification Trial Process (QTP).

The first round of the QTP started in 2017 and involved 15 individual technology trials.

“The QTP acts as a platform to trial system services from new technology providers and identify the operational complexities to the provision of services from a range of providers,” said Eirgrid. “This will ultimately provide a route to an enduring services market.”

Eirgrid said that challenges of integrating new energy-producing technologies include enabling the transition while maintaining the security of the power system.

“Over the past 10 years we have seen increasing changes in the technologies that make up our electric power system,” it said. “Today, and in the future, ‘behind the meter’ technologies such as rooftop solar PV, battery storage, vehicle-to-grid charging and energy management systems are changing the power system. The need for greater transparency of data and information will also drive change across the sector.”

It said that the next phase of the QTP will facilitate real-time trials of new and existing technologies on Ireland’s and Northern Ireland’s power system.

“This will help to identify and to resolve any issues associated with operational protocols, technology capability and communication challenges,” the company has told prospective bidders.

“More generally, the trials will also consider the challenges associated with the large-scale roll-out of these new technologies,” it added.

Eirgrid said that the electricity grid’s transition to handling high levels of non-synchronous generation will result in new system scarcities. Non-synchronous generation includes power sourced from assets such as wind and solar farms.

Last month, Northern Ireland’s infrastructure minister, Nichola Mallon, gave planning permission for the new North-South electricity interconnector in Northern Ireland.