SONI achieves record-breaking level of renewable energy on electricity system

13 April 2018

  • The island grid can now handle up to 65% variable renewable energy at any time
  • This is predominantly made up of wind power
  • The island power system is the first in the world to reach this level

SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) has this week announced that it can successfully manage record-breaking levels of renewable power on the all-island grid.

On Monday 9th April 2018, the grid operator in Northern Ireland, SONI, and the grid operator in the Republic of Ireland, EirGrid, confirmed that up to 65% variable renewable energy can be handled on the all-island grid at any given time. This is predominantly made up of wind power, along with contributions from solar and interconnector imports.

The move to 65% follows the successful completion of a five-month trial, during which SONI tested its ability to handle the 65% limit. Several new all-island wind energy records were set during the trial, including the current record of 3,655 megawatts on 14 March.

The power system is the first in the world to reach this level, making this a ground-breaking achievement.

Internationally, grid operators face a technical challenge to manage high-levels of renewable energy because of concerns about the possible impact of wind on the stability of the power system. High levels of wind generation are difficult to manage because of wind’s inherent variability. The grid was originally designed for conventional generation, such as coal, gas or oil generation.

Robin McCormick, SONI General Manager, said: "The move to 65% represents a significant milestone and demonstrates SONI’s continued drive to integrate more renewable generation on the power system.

"It is a clear demonstration of the excellent collaborative work across the entire energy industry on the island. We look forward to continuing progress towards 75% variable renewable energy on the grid over the coming months and years."