Wind generation supplied almost 64pc of Ireland’s power needs yesterday, slashing – at least for now – reliance on imported gas and coal.
Energy traders have predicted wholesale prices will rise even further this winter from the record levels seen in the past number of weeks.
Consumers and businesses here have been hammered with a succession of price hikes for gas and electricity in part because the rising cost of fossil fuels coincided with record low wind levels over the late summer and early autumn.
Figures from Eirgrid, the semi-State company that manages Ireland’s electricity network, showed that in the 30 days to September 22 this year renewable energy – almost entirely windfarms – generated just 11pc of the country’s total electricity demand.
However, in the 30 days to yesterday wind supplied more than 40pc of Ireland’s power needs, rising to just under 50pc on average over the past seven days.
In the last 24 hours that shot up to almost 64pc and Ireland has been exporting excess power out of the grid.
With wind unpredictable however Europe’s wholesale gas prices remain near record highs.
Concerns of a supply shortage ahead of winter have emerged, with the continent’s stocks at their lowest seasonal level in at least a decade amid a surge in demand including from Asia where ship-borne liquefied natural gas cargoes can easily be diverted.
Prices are so high that in Russia, Europe’s key supplier the Kremlin is worried it will trigger a long-term shift to renewables in EU markets that will ultimately hurt Gazprom, the Russian gas giant which last year supplied nearly a third of all gas consumed in Europe.
“Such a situation, at the end of the day, is leading to lower consumption, and this will affect our producers, including Gazprom,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a government meeting last week. “This is why we are not interested in endless growth of energy prices, including gas.”
A report by the Bloomberg news agency yesterday said Russia wants natural gas prices in Europe to come down by about 60pc in the longer term in order to avoid a situation that destroys demand for Gazprom’s supplies.