The Irish District Energy Association (IrDEA) today voiced concern over the latest Gas Network Price Control review (GNI PC5).
The comments came in relation to the recent public consultation held as part of the review and the sectoral group’s submission to that process. (Full submission available here).
Assumption of growing demand for gas
The group drew particular attention to the lack of consistency with national and international policy, which is set on a move away from fossil fuel dependency and towards renewables. Highlighting that the nuts and bolts of policy delivery must align with that overall goal, IrDEA called for mechanisms like the GNI price control to be used as tools to drive that change.
Speaking on the matter, an IrDEA Spokesperson stated,
We are very concerned that the business-as-usual approach adopted in the PC5 fails to incentivise change on the part of Gas Networks Ireland when it comes to continued gas grid expansion. This must be addressed as a matter of urgency to really get moving on building a pathway to renewable sources of flexible electricity generation, and renewable heat generation and distribution.
IrDEA expressed further concern at the assumption that the demand and need for gas will continue to grow in line with projections made by Gas Networks Ireland (GNI). Government and industry are pushing to achieve 80% renewable electricity by the end of the decade, which will greatly reduce the market share GNI can compete for in terms of electricity generation and that needs to be factored into all scenarios.
On this, the organisation said,
There is a clear policy commitment to pivot to district energy and heat pumps for heating by 2050. If we are serious about achieving that, we must start now. The PC5 is an important mechanism that could help with this, but unfortunately it misses the mark in its current form. We urge that it be revised now to avoid prolonging our dependency on gas and help deliver decarbonised heating as soon as possible.
IrDEA went on to say,
The idea that the PC5 continues to promote the expansion of the gas network through the connection incentive is truly astonishing at a time when we need to plan for the eventual decommissioning of the gas grid. It is true that gas will continue to provide back-up for our electricity and heating systems until alternatives can be put in place, but to continue expanding beyond this is incredibly problematic. No slow-down in gas grid expansion appears to be envisioned in the PC5, which is very worrying from a decarbonisation and energy transition standpoint.
The sectoral group concluded in highlighting the importance of investing in decarbonised solutions to heating and electricity as soon as possible to ensure Ireland has a robust, secure, and safe supply of energy that serves the people of Ireland in every way needed, including in environmental terms.