Despite the crisis in Ukraine, Eamon Ryan is stepping up his opposition to the new Shannon gas plant

Energy Secretary Eamon Ryan has redoubled his opposition to a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facility on the Shannon estuary – despite what he describes as the energy crisis “post-oil crisis of the 1970s”.

n Bord Pleanála will soon decide on a planning application for the facility, and the Taoiseach, during a visit to Kerry last month, said development due to the war in Ukraine is “among the options that need to be considered”.

Mr Ryan has also ruled out nuclear energy for Ireland, although it is now labeled ‘green’ by the EU in certain limited circumstances, in an initiative by Irish Commissioner Mairéad McGuinness.

“The war in Ukraine changed everything, there’s no doubt about that, and the magnitude of this energy crisis transcends the oil crisis of the 1970s,” Ryan said Irish Independent. “We have to look at different energy storage facilities – but that doesn’t mean you choose Ballylongford.”

Mr Ryan acknowledged that An Bord Pleanála is fully independent and must make its own decisions. Additional information requested by the board led potential developers of the Ballylongford plant to claim it would dramatically reduce the EU’s dependence on scarce and increasingly expensive Russian gas.

The Green Party leader, whose opposition to gas storage development in Kerry was a central theme of coalition talks in spring and summer 2020, said the state must take a leadership role in deciding future energy policy, rather than bowing to private interests and keeping them one full focus on low-carbon energy efficiency. He said this must be done independently of the planning decision in Ballylongford, which in any case could take up to a decade to implement.

“We need a coordinated energy system based on our goal to be carbon free within 30 years. What we do has to be based on wind and solar power generation, not on an old-school model,” argued the energy minister.

Mr Ryan was also opposed to the prospect of nuclear power playing a role in Ireland’s future energy mix. Some people point to France – where 70 per cent of energy comes from nuclear generation – and also envisage the prospect of smaller ‘modular’ nuclear generators that could potentially solve Ireland’s need for secure and low-carbon energy in the medium-term future.

“Nuclear power is just so expensive and not at all suitable for the Irish grid. We have a relatively small grid in Ireland and when we switch on nuclear power we need to reserve a similar level of power to allow for a shutdown,” the Minister said.

He also said French authorities had a number of technical problems with their nuclear facilities, including a drought, making water cooling even more problematic. He said Ireland had no real expertise in generating electricity from nuclear power, but did have expertise in wave, wind and solar energy – and that is where international investment is now focused.

“Nuclear energy is not a magic bullet and would be incredibly expensive for us. We don’t currently have a nuclear waste problem to deal with, so why create one?” he added. Despite the crisis in Ukraine, Eamon Ryan is stepping up his opposition to the new Shannon gas plant

Fry Electronics Team

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