Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has told a meeting of his party tonight that he was reasonably confident power outages would not occur this winter and a plan was being worked on.

Earlier, the Taoiseach has said he can "absolutely assure" the public that both he and Government will make every effort to ensure that "what needs to done, will be done" to ensure there are no blackouts this winter.

Micheál Martin said this would be achieved through demand management in which companies who use a lot of electricity will be required to use their own back-up generation capacity.

Labour leader Alan Kelly raised the issue during Leaders' Questions, asking the Taoiseach if he would "guarantee" that the lights will "stay on this winter".

Mr Kelly said he was concerned that "due to a lack of long-term planning, we are sleep-walking into a crisis".

He said the public were being encouraged to use electric cars and heat-pumps, all of which would increase electricity usage, but there was now a question mark over the supply.

Mr Martin said "everything necessary is being done" by Eirgrid and the Commission for Regulation of Utilities.

He said there was "short-term pressure" because of two gas-fired generation plants being off-line due maintenance, something he said had been complicated by Covid-19.

However, Mr Martin said the Cabinet has been assured that these plants are due to come back on stream in October and November.

The Taoiseach added that the Government would ensure there is a reliable energy supply for both homes and businesses.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Government is failing to get the basics right.

Speaking during Questions on Promised Legislation, Ms McDonald said the Taoiseach does not appreciate how anxious people are over possible energy blackouts.

"Why will you not introduce a moratorium on more data centres until an impact assessment has been carried out?" she asked the Taoiseach.

Ms Martin said Ms McDonald did not think it was an important enough issue to raise in Leader's Questions.

She thanked him for "mansplaining" the issue to "a mere woman".

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Earlier, Minister for the Environment, Climate Action and Communications Eamon Ryan said that the electricity supply is "tight" and that the Government cannot be absolutely certain that no power outages will occur this winter.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Minister Ryan said that subsequent winters will also be difficult but added "we will manage it".

He said he was confident that upcoming auctions to bring additional back-up power will be successful as Ireland is talking to companies to make it clear the volume of supply that is needed.

There is new capacity available on the market, he said, and Ireland is working to have the right planning in place to secure it.

Minister Ryan said "we can't have the lights going out" and it would be necessary to use Moneypoint and other older plants for back-up power when the wind is not blowing.

He said the running of fossil fuel power plants as back-up was always part of the plan but he does not want this to extend that beyond 2025 and it must be managed within the overall climate and carbon budgets.

Ireland is also developing other new grid interconnections, he said, with the UK by 2023 and with France by 2026, to bring "significant balancing capability".

He said renewable, solar and wind power is being scaled up and developed in line with this to enable Ireland to meet its climate targets.

In relation to data centres, Minister Ryan said they have to operate within carbon budgets and have to use battery storage or other power generation back-up to meet climate targets.

He said that EirGrid has a central role in managing the national grid and "are being pushed to the pin of their collar, but I am confident they can do it".

Mr Ryan said the roll out of battery power is another measure being used to store power.

The minister said a micro-generation scheme that allows people to generate power and sell it back to the grid has been delayed, but is set to be introduced.

The employers' group Ibec said that reducing economic activity in response to energy shortages is "a stupid response" and that excess demand requires excess supply to be provided.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Ibec Chief Executive Danny McCoy said it needed to be ensured that Ireland could continue to benefit from the technology sector.

He said continued investment in data centres was essential, adding that "we can make it sustainable by making the grid bigger and having more renewables sources".

His comments come as a motion is moved in the Dáil today to pause the expansion of data centres until a risk analysis on their impact is conducted.

Mr McCoy said that the increased demand for energy is also coming from households, with increased device usage, remote working and cloud infrastructure.

He said that there needs to be a conversation about environmental targets but that "stopping demand is not the route to go".

CRU warns of higher energy prices due to shortage

The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has warned that customers face higher charges for their electricity in the coming years due to record demand and reduced supply.

Also speaking on Morning Ireland, Commissioner Jim Gannon said that new generated capacity is not coming to market as quickly as needed to fulfill that demand and replace older parts of the fleet as they require.

Mr Gannon said the two major gas plants that had prolonged outages that may have put supply at risk this winter are scheduled to come back in November and December.

He said "although things will remain tight and we may have some amber alerts, it will be challenging but manageable" this winter.

The commission has put in place a work programme with a number of pillars to address the shortfall in the coming years as Ireland gets an enduring gas plant in place.

Mr Gannon said these including bringing in temporary generation, retaining access to older generation for longer and reducing needs at time of scarcity as well as other contingency measures .

He said the measures will be largely delivered through competitive markets or competitive processes "to make sure that we get the best price for consumers".

Mr Gannon added: "It is anticipated that, yes, they will have to pay more."