The Republic of Ireland’s energy market opens to full competition in February next year – and the regulator is keen to ensure that there will be at least some competition in this sector by the time the market opens.

The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has asked incumbent utility ESB Customer Supply to conduct a fresh auction of electricity for independent suppliers, specifically geared at residential and small and medium enterprises in the country. The auction, known as the virtual independent power producer (VIPP) scheme, will see 400 MW of ESB power being transferred to independent suppliers. It allows those companies who do not own their own power stations to have access to a guaranteed supply for one calendar year.

One of the problems surrounding the process, however, is that companies have up to now been reluctant to get involved in the domestic market, indicating that it is not sufficiently profitable. While several companies have been in contact with the CER about the auction, one in particular – Direct Independent Energy – has been named as a possible new entrant to the Irish power sector.

www.cer.ie