Nuclear energy in Ireland

While the Single Electricity Market encompassing the entire island of Ireland does not, and has never, produced any electricity from nuclear power stations. Since 2001, Northern Ireland and by 2012, the rest of the island, has become increasingly interconnected with the neighboring electric grid of Britain and therefore Ireland is now partly powered by overseas nuclear fission stations.[1][2] Presently, the production of electricity for the Irish national grid(Eirgrid), by nuclear fission, is legally prohibited by Ireland/Éire under Electricity Regulation Act, 1999 (Section 18).[3] Although the enforcement of this law on "production" is naturally only possible within the borders of Ireland and it does not prohibit consumption.

As of 2014, a Generation IV nuclear station was envisaged in competition with a biomass burning facility to succeed Ireland's single largest source of greenhouse gases, the coal burning Moneypoint power station, when it retires, c. 2025.[4][5]

In 2015 a National Energy Forum was founded to decide upon generation mixes to be deployed in Ireland/Éire,[6] out to 2030. This forum has yet to be convened(Oct 2016).

Electricity security

In 2014 Ireland presently sources about 70% of its electricity from fossil gas.[7] The primary source("95%") of this gas to Ireland is via the moffat-Isle of man-Gormanstown/"Dublin" connection and to a lesser extent, the Scotland-Northern Ireland pipeline(SNIP),[7][8][9][10] both of these pipes are, in of themselves, connected to the wider British pipe-network and the European continent Dutch-British network. This great network of pipes is supplied with North Sea Gas and as that source is drying up[11] a greater dependence is expected on the frequently disrupted European gas network due to Russia being a primary provider.[12][13]

Carnsore Point

Main article: Carnsore Point

A nuclear power plant was proposed in 1968, and resulted in the creation of the Nuclear Energy Board. It was to be built during the 1970s at Carnsore Point in County Wexford by the Electricity Supply Board. The plan envisioned four reactors to be built at the site, but was dropped in 1981 after strong opposition from anti-nuclear lobby groups throughout the 1970s, particularly in 1978 with concerts and rallies being held at Carnsore Point attended by popular musician Christy Moore. The intended generating capacity of the planned station was therefore required to be sourced from other energy sources, and such, the construction of the coal burning Moneypoint power station began in 1979.[14]

Revived interest

In April 2006, a government-commissioned report by Forfás pointed to the need for Ireland to reconsider nuclear power in order "to secure its long-run energy security". A relatively small-scale, Generation IV nuclear station was envisaged. In 2007, Ireland's Electricity Supply Board made it known that it would consider a joint venture with a major European Union energy company to build nuclear capacity.[4]

Fission electricity enters Ireland

Upon the completion of the HVDC Moyle cable in 2001, connecting Northern Ireland and Scotland and then the larger capacity East-West Interconnector in 2012, a submarine cable that connects County Dublin with Wales, Ireland has been supported with electricity from the generation of the Welsh Wylfa fission-electric power station and fission electricity in Britain as a whole, with nuclear fission producing about 18% of Britain's total electric generation capacity.[1][2][15]

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions

A 2012 International Energy Agency (IEA) report said that Ireland is highly dependent on imported oil and natural/fossil gas. While the push to develop renewable energies is commendable, it will result in an increased reliance on fossil gas, as gas-fired power plants will be required to provide flexibility in electricity supply when wind power is unavailable. About 60% of Ireland's electricity already comes from gas-fired generation, which adds to energy security concerns, particularly as 93% of its gas supplies come from a single transit point in Scotland.[4]

In 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency in Ireland warned that Ireland is not on track to meet its 2020 pollution reductions of greenhouse gases.[4]

As there is a need to replace the coal burning 900 MW Moneypoint power station, situated in the South West of Ireland, a station which will approach its design life in 2025 [16] and until then it will remain as Ireland's primary emitter of greenhouse gases.[17] A dependable baseload power source with a high capacity factor will be required to keep the grid stable in its absence, a role that is now being filled by Moneypoint station, this role will thus need to be filled by a low carbon power station to mitigate climate change.

As of 2014, a Generation IV nuclear station was envisaged in competition with a biomass burning facility to succeed Moneypoint.[4][5]

In 2015 a National Energy Forum was envisaged to decide on generation mixes to be deployed in Ireland [18] out to 2030, as of July 2016 this forum has not been convened.

Nuclear fusion

As with the other members of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), Ireland funds nuclear fusion energy research, including the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, now known simply as the ITER project, with the Irish contribution being managed by the National Centre for Plasma Science & Technology at Dublin City University.[19]

See also


  1. 1 2
  2. 1 2 page 50
  3. Electricity Regulation Act, 1999 (Section 18)
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "Emerging Nuclear Energy Countries". World Nuclear Association. April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
  5. 1 2 page 50 to 60
  6. "Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030" (PDF). Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  7. 1 2 Risk: Security of energy supplies in Ireland
  8. Map of gas pipelines in Britain and Ireland
  9. Infrastructure and suitable geology map
  10. Transmission of Natural Gas through a Second Pipeline between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Ireland and through a Connection to the Isle of Man
  11. Oil and Gas in the North Sea Franziska Krause TU Bergakademie Freiberg
  12. Discussion on the source of Ireland's natural gas with contending commentators
  13. A Review of Irish Energy Policy, ESRI John Fitzgerald
  15. G.B. National Grid Status Data courtesy of BM Reports
  16. "Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030 ( Page 38)" (PDF). Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  17. Irish Independent Business
  18. "Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030" (PDF). Retrieved 30 July 2016.
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