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Floating LNG facility among energy security options

A floating Liquified Natural Gas facility is among the options included in a review on how to strengthen Ireland’s electricity and gas security over the coming years.

The independent review, published this afternoon, does not seek to address energy concerns in the immediate term, but instead is concerned with implementing options up to 2030.

As part of the review, the Department of the Environment has launched a public consultation, which will run until 28 October.

Following that consultation, it is expected that recommendations will then go to Government.

Other possible mitigation measures include onshore strategic gas storage, additional electricity interconnectors, biomass plants and hydrogen plants.

A permanent LNG terminal on the Shannon Estuary is not included in the short list of mitigation options.

Over the coming years, it is forecast that Ireland will see a reduction in gas demand but an increase in “peak day demand”.

This would mean that renewable energy sources, such as wind, would struggle to meet demand on days where there was a lack of wind. Therefore, mitigation measures will be required.

Separately, coalition leaders will meet later today to consider budgetary measures to assist households and businesses with high energy costs over the coming months.

Giving his reaction to today’s report, Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan outlined his assessment of the risk Ireland faces in terms of energy supply.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, Mr Ryan said: “I think there are three separate issues here. We have an immediate issue on the high energy prices caused by the Russian shut off of gas.

“There’s a secondary issue in terms of the electricity supply this winter and next and we have to address that through new generation, through new renewable power and we will do that.”

He also said the report looks at a third issue, in terms of how secure is our system into the future.

The report looks at how secure our electricity and gas systems are.

“It looks at every eventuality, every possibility,” he added.

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Mr Ryan said this “more medium term look” review does have to take into account what is happening today regarding Russian gas.

He said that Ireland is “in a different situation” to other European countries.

Ireland is not in “a high risk location” because it is connected to the UK and subsequently to the Norwegian gas system and that is not directly dependent on Russian gas, the Minister explained.

“The likelihood of a real shortfall because of that is low, not impossible, but very low,” he said.

He said that there are a “variety of different options” when it comes to policies that could be implemented to mitigate the risks faced.

“We’re going to build new electricity interconnectors between Ireland and England. We’re going to build new interconnection between Ireland and France and they give us additional security,” he said.

He also said that the country committed this summer to develop its own gas or own indigenous gas to the agricultural system using anaerobic digestion.

“We think that we can provide up to about 15% of our needs,” he stated.

Friends of the Earth Ireland said the publication of the report marks a significant step in ending all fossil fuel infrastructure in Ireland.

It said this is because it rules out a commercially-operated or state-owned LNG import terminal on land, such as Shannon LNG, a commercially-operated floating LNG terminal and additional gas reserves from existing exploration licences.

“This expert report provides a clear signal that Government is starting to finally recognise the real dangers of Ireland’s overdependence on fossil fuels, as well as the risks of locking Ireland into polluting gas if long-term infrastructure is allowed,” said Jerry Mac Evilly, Head of Policy in Friends of the Earth.

“The technical analysis correctly rejects risky commercial fossil fuel projects, including Shannon LNG. We now call on the Government to make the existing moratorium on commercial LNG permanent in light of this analysis.”

But the Irish Offshore Operators Association said it was disappointed to see the report excludes discussion of the potential contribution to energy security of future indigenous gas and oil that could be produced at no cost to the State.

It said natural gas from the Irish offshore would have significantly lower emissions intensity than imported gas.

“Following a thorough analysis and assessment of the Report, IOOA will be making a detailed submission to the public consultation,” it said.

Meanwhile, former head of ESB International Don Moore has said that utilising backup diesel generators at data centres around Dublin could be a solution to avoid power shortages this year.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, Mr Moore said that while “importing emergency generation” is currently being considered, this is “not something that a developed economy does”.

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“There is a solution, which I think should be considered, which could help ensure we don’t have power outages this winter, and that is the data centres around Dublin have approximately 1,800 megawatts of backup generation.

“These are diesel generators, and they’re meant to kick into action if a data centre loses power from the grid, because they can’t afford to be offline for even seconds, so there’s no reason why this diesel fire generation could not be actually mobilised to actually avoid power shortages this year.”

Mr Moore, who is also the current chair of the Energy and Climate Action Committee of the Irish Academy of Engineering, said that insufficient gas-fired generation in the system is a “homegrown” crisis.

“I think it’s important that people understand that we don’t have one crisis, we actually have two.

“One crisis, the public are very familiar with and that’s because very high gas prices are feeding into very, very high electricity prices, and that’s directly as a result of the war in the Ukraine.

“But there is another crisis, which is entirely homegrown, and that is insufficient gas fired generation on the system.”

He said that this shortage was forecast by Eirgrid five years ago.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, welcomed publication of the “long overdue” review and said that the government must accelerate indigenous renewable energy production to help achieve energy independence, reduce electricity prices and cut fossil fuel use.

Mr O’Rourke said: “A failure by successive governments to properly manage the energy transition, to match supply with demand, and to develop our massive offshore wind capacity has left us reliant on fossil fuels and exposed us to extreme volatility in the international energy markets.

“The shortlisted gas storage options of strategic floating LNG and strategic storage, on- or off-shore, must be considered in the context of fossil-fuel lock-in and ease of conversion to hydrogen or other low/zero carbon fuels.

“We note that commercial LNG is not shortlisted due to the fact that such a facility could result in the importation of fracked gas and, further, could become a stranded asset. These are concerns that Sinn Féin have long held.

“It is also positive to see battery storage, demand side response, biomethane, green hydrogen and pumped hydro solutions all shortlisted. It’s clear we have sustainable alternatives.”

SOURCE: https://www.rte.ie/news/2022/0919/1324129-energy-security-review/

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