Climate emergency and the electricity grid

The climate campaign you've never heard of.

Ireland needs a secure, affordable and – most importantly – zero-carbon electricity system.  

Whether we succeed in building one rests largely on a document published last month and probably little known outside the nerdy world of energy policy. 

Shaping Our Electricity Future 1.1 is EirGrid’s strategy for reinforcing and expanding Ireland’s electricity grid. 

EirGrid’s job is to operate, plan and develop the network of overhead lines, underground cables, substations and other infrastructure, working with ESB Networks, to ensure that when you enter your living room and flick the switch, the light comes on. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, there are men and women working in the EirGrid control centre to do just that. 

Keeping the lights on 

EirGrid’s new strategy sets out their plan for upgrading and expanding the electricity grid between now and 2030 to ensure the lights keep coming on but also, critically, to strengthen the network so it can accommodate more renewable electricity.  

Our electricity system is changing. In the 20th century a handful of fossil fuel generators, often located close to the major cities, provided most of the power to your home. Now we need to harvest that energy, and much more to meet growing demand, from hundreds of wind and solar farms all over the island. The grid is the infrastructure that collects that energy, transports it and delivers it directly to your living room.

Climate activism 

Reinforcing Ireland’s electricity grid is the single most important piece of climate activism for the next ten years. Without this infrastructure our wind and solar farms won’t be able to get as much electricity on the grid and this means we will need to keep importing gas to burn in our power stations. 

Just last year, because of onshore wind farms, we spent €2 billion less importing gas into Ireland. That’s good for the climate and good for the economy. 

We need projects like the North-South Interconnector which will connect Meath and Tyrone and is arguably the country’s single biggest all-island infrastructure project, but also scores of smaller projects that will make our electricity grid stronger. 

We know delivering infrastructure in Ireland is challenging – and it should be to ensure development is done respectfully and sustainable – but we all need to support these projects and speak up, to say to everyone in power, from Government buildings to your local County Council, #BuildOurGrid.