SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) Forecasts Stable Electricity Demand for Northern Ireland Over Next Decade

27 August 2020

SONI operates and plans the electricity grid in Northern Ireland. This includes interconnection with neighbouring grids and the wholesale electricity market. We send power from where it is generated to where it is needed, at the most economic price possible.

Part of our role is to track the demand for electricity in Northern Ireland and plan the electricity system to meet that demand. Our latest research into the balance between supply and demand shows that over the next decade, electricity demand will be relatively stable in Northern Ireland.

This is captured in the 2020 All-Island Generation Capacity Statement, a joint report between SONI and EirGrid, the electricity system operator in Ireland.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant real-time impact on electricity demand on the island in recent months however; it is still too early to determine what this could mean in the long term.

When we have more clarity, particularly in terms of the economic impact, we will update the demand forecast, which will be published in the next version of this report, GCS 2021-2030.

"The North South Interconnector remains absolutely vital for medium to long-term security"

Jo Aston, Managing Director of SONI said:

“Northern Ireland’s electricity needs do fluctuate over time and commonly year-on-year. While the recent Single Electricity Market’s (SEM) Capacity Auction saw enough capacity secured to ensure near-term security of supply, the North South Interconnector remains absolutely vital for medium to long-term security. Together with the new SEM, this will enable consumers in Northern Ireland to realise the ambition of maximising the considerable benefits of an All-Island electricity system and market.”

SONI is required by licence to produce an annual Generation Capacity Statement. Similarly, EirGrid has a regulatory requirement to publish forecast information about the power system, including an assessment of the balance between supply and demand.

These studies were carried out separately for Northern Ireland and Ireland, and jointly on an all-island basis.

The Generation Capacity Statement is available to download here.