Winter is coming: How can Ireland ensure the lights stay on and homes stay warm?

09/28/2022  12:00 pm-1:00 pm ET

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In this seminar, Brian Ó Gallachóir will provide the context for, challenges with, and solutions to three distinct aspects of the current energy crisis facing Ireland this winter and coinciding in a perfect storm: 1) unprecedented gas and electricity prices, 2) increased risks of electricity supply shortfalls, and 3) increased risks of gas supply disruptions. Ó Gallachóir will explain the context for these challenges comprising a number of factors including post-COVID economic recovery, weather effects, geo-political events, and failures to build sufficient new gas-fired electricity supply. He will also touch on factors that compound these challenges, including Ireland recently legislating for the second highest greenhouse gas emissions reduction target in the world (after Denmark) by 2030. Ó Gallachóir will show how energy price increases are resulting in increased levels of energy poverty and significant challenges for businesses.

On top of this, the increased energy supply risks are causing significant concern for households and businesses, and damaging Ireland’s international reputation. Ó Gallachóir will present policy and energy system solutions under discussion for each of the three challenges: 1) sheltering those most vulnerable to the energy price rises (increased payments, accelerating free home upgrades, and gas boiler servicing for those experiencing energy poverty), promoting economy-wide energy demand reduction; 2) prioritizing new emergency backup generation and expanding demand management measures (in particular, at peak and at low wind times); and 3) efforts to reduce gas demand (including electricity demand, over half of which is gas generated), accelerating energy efficiency and renewables to displace gas, and reopening “closed” conversations on gas storage, LNG supply, and increased indigenous supply. He will conclude with the tricky balancing required here to ensure we have increased gas security, but don’t lock in increased gas usage.

About the speaker

Brian Ó Gallachóir is a professor of energy engineering at University College Cork (UCC) and the director of Ireland’s MaREI Research Centre for Energy, Climate, and Marine research and innovation. He is currently a visiting scholar at the MIT Energy Initiative while on sabbatical from UCC. Ó Gallachóir’s research focuses on building and using energy systems models that have underpinned Irish and EU energy and climate mitigation policies and energy company strategies. Ó Gallachóir is elected chair of the International Energy Agency Technology Collaboration Programme on energy systems modeling (IEA-ETSAP) and an elected fellow of the Irish Academy of Engineering. As a visiting scholar at MIT, Ó Gallachóir is exploring mutually beneficial areas of research collaboration, in particular on topics related to MITEI’s modeling program.

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