Windmills on green land with a small road.

EirGrid, the grid system operator for Ireland, alongside its partner SONI, the system operator for Northern Ireland, recently achieved a major decarbonization milestone by successfully operating Ireland’s electricity grid at between 70% and 75% variable renewable energy (VRE) for a total of 232 hours across an 11-month trial period. This trial demonstrates that up to three quarters of the electricity flowing on the Irish electricity grid at any point in time can now come from VRE sources.

The Ireland and Northern Ireland power system is the first in the world to reach this landmark level of renewable generation while overcoming major technical challenges associated with integrating electricity from wind farms, solar farms, and interconnectors that link it with other countries. There were several new all-island wind energy records set during the 11 months, including the current record of 4,584 megawatts on February 5th.

EirGrid had previously imposed a cap of 70% on the amount of variable renewable generation on the grid at a given time. Following this successful trial, the cap has now been raised to 75%. This trial also marks the culmination of EirGrid and SONI’s 11-year work program focused on progressively increasing the limits of VRE on the Irish grid. Work will now begin on increasing the figure to 95% by 2030 to achieve the government’s renewable energy targets.

Read EirGrid’s full press release: Electricity Grid to Run on 75% Variable Renewable Generation Following Successful Trial.

EirGrid has demonstrated its leadership in system operation by not only raising the bar for what is possible in VRE integration, but also by working with the G-PST as one of its founding system operators and helping provide coordinated support and knowledge transfer for other organizations pursuing clean energy transitions. Mark Foley, EirGrid’s Chief Executive and a prominent advocate for the G-PST, recently expressed in a piece for the Irish Times how collaborative initiatives across the power systems industry are key to successfully addressing climate change.

Read Foley’s full piece for the Irish Times: Accelerating the Energy Transition.