One of two electricity plants shut down since last winter is due to restart at the weekend, but a second will not resume for 11 days after originally estimated.
Temporary shutdowns of Bord Gáis Energy's electricity generator in Whitegate, Co Cork, and one of Energia's two units in Huntstown, Co Dublin, have aggravated the Republic's ongoing energy squeeze.
Energia said Huntstown remained on track to restart generating electricity on Saturday, October 23rd. "Commissioning work is ongoing," the power supply group added.
However, Bord Gáis Energy confirmed that it had told the electricity market that Whitegate would return on November 15th, instead of its originally scheduled restart on November 4th.
“There has been significant progress made in returning Whitegate power station to service,” said the company.
Faults forced both plants to shut for repairs last winter. Whitegate generates 444 mega watts (MW) of electricity, while Huntstown produces 400MW. Their absence contributed to growing pressure on electricity supplies that prompted the Irish market operator to issue eight warnings about stretched capacity.
The so-called “amber alerts” cautioned that demand had reached the point where reserves of electricity were tighter than ideal, increasing the risk of a power cut.
Energy industry sources say that the return of both would reduce the risk of electricity shortages this winter, and leave the energy supply system in a “more comfortable” position.
Huntstown shut on January 29th this year, three weeks after the first of the system alerts. Whitegate has been out since December 2nd, 2020. Neither company has given details on the problems that caused their generator to close.
National electricity grid operator Eirgrid and the Commission for Regulation of Utilities last month predicted that meeting energy demand would be "challenging" this winter even with the power plants' return.
A cold snap helped sent electricity demand to a peak of 5,375MW for a period during one day in early January this year, breaking a 10-year record.
Demand is continuing to grow, sparking concerns that the system may not be able to meet it in coming years unless power plants that have been shut are replaced.