4 June 2024

Solar power reaches new monthly peak for May

Solar power reached its highest recorded figure on the national electricity grid for the month of May, while overall 28% of electricity came from renewable sources for the month, according to provisional data from EirGrid.

71,731 MWh (megawatt hours) of electricity was produced from grid-scale solar[i] over the month, up from 61,082 MWh in May 2023. 

This represented 2.7% of all electricity generated in May, which is the highest proportion of solar power generation recorded on the grid to date for any monthly period.

Overall electricity system generation[ii] stood at 2.68 million MWh for May.

Of the 28% of electricity generated from renewables in May[iii], the majority came from wind, which accounted for 20.4% of electricity produced, with the remainder of renewable generation coming from other sources including hydro and biomass. 

Gas generation accounted for 51% of the electricity produced in May, with 18% being imported via interconnection, 2% coming from coal, and the remaining 1% from other sources[iv]. 

EirGrid is responsible for leading Ireland's transition to a low carbon future so that 80% of electricity can come from renewables by 2030, as set out in Government targets.

In April, EirGrid confirmed it had reduced the minimum number of large conventional fossil-fuelled generators that must operate on Ireland’s electricity grid at any one time from five to four. 

This will allow for a reduction in carbon emissions and create more opportunity for renewable generators to meet power requirements.  

Currently the electricity grid can accommodate up to 75% of electricity from renewable sources at any one time. This is known as the system non-synchronous penetration (SNSP) limit. EirGrid is aiming to further increase the SNSP limit.

Diarmaid Gillespie, Director of System Operations at EirGrid, said: “As more renewable energy becomes available in the coming years, we’ll be able to bring more wind and solar energy onto Ireland’s grid. Solar power has become a notable feature of the Irish power system over the last year in particular, as demonstrated by the figures for May.

“The balancing of supply and demand becomes more complex as more variable renewables, like wind and solar, come onto the grid, so upgrades, enhancements and new projects are required across the country, as set out in our Shaping Our Electricity Future roadmap.”

About the data

The data is based on 15-minute SCADA readings (MW). The data referenced above is Ireland-only.

Data is provisional and unmetered data, based on real-time information. 

[i] Not including rooftop (embedded) solar.

[ii] System Generation represents the total electricity production on the system, including system losses, but net of generators' requirements. It includes an estimate of the power produced by wind generators, but excludes some non-centrally monitored generation (such as small-scale combined heat and power and microgeneration).

[iii] Average Fuel Mix is a representation of the System Generation fuel mix and net imports across the power system. The “Renewables” category includes wind, solar, hydro and biomass sources. It excludes some non-centrally monitored generation (such as small-scale combined heat and power and microgeneration).

[iv] The “Other” category includes Peat, Distillate, Combined Heat and Power (CHP), Aggregated Generating Units (AGUs) and Demand Side Units (DSUs). Waste is split 50% between the “Other” and “Renewable” categories.