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05 July 2022 4 min read

Bridging the Gap - Towards a zero-carbon power grid

Mark Turner

Mark Turner
Partner, Energy & Resources

Alec Granville-Willett

Alec Granville-Willett
Expert in power sector decarbonisation | London

In this study we have sought to quantify the impact on cumulative power sector emissions brought by the deployment rate of renewables, as well as to test the limit of achievability for the unfolding decade ahead under current policy.

Key findings – what have we learned?

  • The total cumulative CO2 emissions from the Irish power sector out to 2030 are sensitive to the Pathway taken to get there.
  • In Pathways that meet Ireland’s 2030 targets, our analysis shows that cumulative power sector emissions can be reduced by 4 million tonnes of CO2 by the rapid delivery of renewables following RESS auctions compared to a delayed delivery of the same capacity.
  • In an ambitious Pathway that exceeds many of Ireland’s 2030 targets, with rapid delivery of renewable capacity and investment in enabling technologies, our analysis shows that 66 million tonnes of CO2 are emitted from the power sector in the decade between 2021 and 2030, including 6 million tonnes resulting from transmission constraints.
  • This Pathway represents a saving of at least 6 million tonnes of CO2 compared to a Baseline of EirGrid’s Shaping our Electricity Future Roadmap. However, it still substantially exceeds an indicative sectoral carbon budget of 55 million tonnes of CO2.
  • Achieving a carbon budget of 66 million tonnes of CO2 in the power sector requires the build of onshore wind and solar PV capacity as early in the decade as possible and proactive investment in enabling technologies, including:
    • Sources of system flexibility to manage renewable oversupply, such as interconnection, demand-side response, and energy storage technologies;
    • Provision of zero-carbon system services from battery assets and synchronous condensers, to unwind DS3 limits and moderate renewable curtailment; and
    • The continued development of the transmission network including all projects identified in the Shaping Roadmap, and further upgrades to circuits throughout Ireland. The rapid deployment of renewables also requires the strategic deployment of constraint management solutions, such as dynamic line rating, power flow control, and dedicated energy storage assets, to address renewable constraint due to transmission limits.
  • Use of carbon intensive fossil fuels including coal and peat in the first half of the decade ‘locks in’ substantial emissions, and puts pressure on carbon budgets. Our analysis suggests that 66 million tonnes of CO2 between 2021 and 2030 represents the minimum achievable for the Irish power sector under current policies; major and fast interventions are required to move the dial past this figure, including solutions to phase out the usage of these carbon intensive fuels, and an acceleration of renewables and enabling technologies above and beyond existing policy.


For more information on the contents of the report or how Baringa can help your organisation, please contact the report authors Mark Turner and Alec Granville-Willett.

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