The energy report calls on the government to build gas storage facilities to combat supply risk

IRELAND needs to build significant gas storage facilities to hold national reserves in case of energy emergencies, advisers hired by the government have said.

They say the gas can be conventional fossil gas transported via existing pipelines or liquefied natural gas (LNG) stored in a “floating terminal” at sea.

A floating terminal is a large storage vessel with an onboard regasification unit to turn the liquid back into gas and feed it into existing onshore gas pipelines.

In both cases, the facilities would only be brought
used when there was a risk of supply from regular sources.

If the recommendations are accepted by the government, New Fortress Energy and Shannon LNG’s proposal to build a permanent LNG terminal in Kerry will be seriously challenged.

Such a commercial venture would require LNG to be used on a regular basis to pay the return on the €650 million investment.

The project is awaiting a decision from An Bord Pleanála on its planning application, but the board is awaiting confirmation of government policy.

Current government policy is against building LNG infrastructure, but that still depends on the outcome of the Energy Security Review, for which consultants CEPA have been commissioned to carry out analyses.

They were tasked with assessing Ireland’s energy supply and the challenges ahead of the war in Ukraine and the consequent gas shortages.

CEPA was given additional time to update its findings as the crisis hit.

Their analysis is published today and a period of public consultation on their findings and recommendations begins.

The government wants to finalize its policy before the end of the year and start working on a storage solution.

The Greens are opposed to LNG as it is usually obtained by fracking – a method banned in Ireland – and investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure is against climate policy, but the emergency storage option would be more acceptable to the party.

Whatever option is chosen, it will cost hundreds of millions of euros and involve a potentially tricky site selection process.

Consideration has been given to using the empty underwater gas wells in the recently depleted Kinsale gas fields for storage.

Much of the infrastructure has been decommissioned, but essential piping and
Connections to the shore remain in place.

Another private developer, Predator, has proposed using the Kinsale site for LNG in a project called Mag Mell.

The CEPA analysis also examines progress in renewable energy deployment and warns that it needs to be accelerated.

Preparations are well advanced for seven large offshore wind farms that would significantly increase the availability of renewable electricity.

However, they have not yet entered the planning phase as the procedures for processing planning applications for marine developments have only recently been completed after 20 years.

The potential for renewable gas such as green hydrogen is also being explored. The analysis is believed to urge investment in green hydrogen development, but cautions that this is a longer-term perspective.

Energy efficiency is also a focus of the report, which is expected to call for much faster retrofit programs and grid investments to harness all available wind energy.

Currently, turbines have to be shut down at times when they are producing more electricity than the local grid can transport. The energy report calls on the government to build gas storage facilities to combat supply risk

Fry Electronics Team

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