A Closer Look at the CRU Review on Large Energy User Connections

Posted on 23 January 2024

Thanuja Bandara
Engineering Analyst – RE24

Comes from a background of Chemical Engineering and specialised in energy market research and biofuel techniques.

Introduction 

Ireland’s independent authority over energy and water regulations is the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). Their main functions are protecting consumers, maintaining a high standard of supply, and fostering industrial competitiveness. They have launched the Consultation on Large Energy User Connections Policy as part of Ireland’s agenda for sustainability and NetZero. The consultation period began on January 12, 2024, and ends on February 26, 2024. 

Background  

CRU was appointed as the lead organisation by Climate Action Plan 2023 (CAP23) to ‘Complete and Publish (an) Electricity Demand Side Strategy and Implementation Plan’ (EL/23/24) by quarter four of 2023. All the inputs from the relevant stakeholders were to be considered in the plan. 

To fulfil this, CRU has initiated The National Energy Demand Strategy (NEDS). The aim was to create a framework to include the measures needed to decarbonise economic growth. As a result of this, many steps including the reviewing and consultation for large energy users has introduced. 

Need for a review on Large Energy User Connections  

This review focuses on the processing of new large energy demand grid connections to both the electricity and gas systems. It will consider on how to achieve better decarbonisation of large energy consumption, and the increase demand for renewable energy generation with that. 

The Sectoral Emissions Ceilings and the statement on the Role of Data Centres in Ireland’s Enterprise Strategy, two recent government publications, have prompted this. 

Objectives of the Review 

The main objective of this consultation is to minimise the national carbon emissions by creating a path for new Large Energy User (LEU) connections to the electricity and gas systems. In relation to that, the capacity of the system, required energy supply and the grid infrastructure will also be considered. 

This consultation paper (CRU2024001) has been published in order to get public input on potential assessment criteria on LEU applications considering the national climate targets. 

Parallel Consultation Papers 

Two more consultations have been conducted by the CRU in parallel with this one. on December 21, 2023, a consultation on the National Energy Demand Strategy (CRU2023148) was issued. On December 20, 2023, the CRU released a consultation, Electricity Generation and System Services Connection Policy (CRU2023163)

Potential Solutions and Measures 

Numerous potential solutions and supportive actions have been identified with in the consultation. They include, 

  • Transition period: highlighting different levels of capability and the need for development of products and services 
  • Measuring performance: the need for measurement, monitoring and assurance of performance of LEU’s 
  • Location of LEUs: the proximity to renewable energy, availability of grid capacity, co-location of supply and demand, the concept of energy parks.
  • Non-firm demand connections: the provision of non-firm or timed connection offers for electricity, or interruptible contracts for gas
  • Onsite generation and storage: renewable gas onsite, or off-site (e.g. through CPPA’s for renewable gas), alternative on-site fuels.
  • Demand flexibility: the ability to provide primary energy service flexibility, whether dispatch down or dispatch up, provision of flexibility on- or off-site through CPPA for storage or alternative arrangements

Conclusion:

In conclusion, CRU hopes to get the insights of all stakeholders on the issue of managing large energy users’ energy demand while minimising the carbon emissions.  Any CRU decision that is made as a result of this investigation, including any new directions, might be influenced by the findings and could be applicable to all new connection applications starting on the date of publication. 

stakeholders for CRU large energy users connection policy consultation

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