Ireland’s ESB National Grid, an independent body that runs the nation’s electricity system, said that Ireland could experience a significant electricity shortage in the next three years if its generating plants do not increase their output.

In its capacity as Ireland's Transmission System Operator (TSO), ESB National Grid published its “Generation Adequacy Report 2004 – 2010” on Friday. The report said that at 78% availability, generation plant reliability performance is currently at the lowest levels experienced for a decade. The report predicts that, should this situation continue, there will be a significant shortage of generation plant, in the order of 500 MW, in 2004 and 2005.

The country’s Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) is trying to address the projected shortfall in generation and is looking for a maximum of 400 MW of new power supply by 2005-2006, said a Dow Jones Business News story by Quentin Fottrell.

“At present, availability is substantially below historical trends and outside international standards, and leads to large deficits of plant,” theGeneration Adequacy Report stated. “However, if availability improvement measures are sufficiently effective, the supply demand balance could be restored without the need for excessive amounts of additional plants above that which may be provided by the CER Capacity 2005 Competition.”

Late Thursday, the CER chose two companies as preferred bidders to build two power plants, the Dow Jones story said. Mountside Properties Ltd. is to build a 400 MW gas station in Galway, and Aughinish Alumina should be building a 150 MW station in Limerick. If the companies meet the requirements and secure the contracts, they’ll get a 10-year contract to supply the ESB, Ireland’s state-owned power monopoly, a deal potentially worth more than EUR1.4 billion.