Ireland could become overly dependent on natural gas from the UK for power generation by 2030 due to dwindling domestic sources, the energy watchdog will warn on Tuesday.
The Public Services Regulatory Commission (CRU) will argue that it would be “prudent” for a future role for liquefied natural gas (LNG) to be examined by the government.
He comes as the Oireachtas Environmental Commission meets to examine energy security, LNG and data center use of electricity.
The government has taken action to allay concerns about possible power outages this winter due to the strain on the power system and the higher demand that will be brought on by cooler temperatures.
Eirgrid, which manages the grid, will explain to the committee how the electricity supply should be “tight”, but consumers and essential services should not be affected.
LNG is controversial due to the use of the environmentally harmful fracking process used to extract the gas.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said it would not be appropriate to license an LNG plant in Ireland – including one planned by Shannon LNG in County Kerry – pending the results of a review of energy security to be completed next year.
The new National Development Plan (PND) commits to increasing the share of renewable electricity up to 80% by 2030.
CRU chairperson Aoife MacEvilly is to tell committee that security of natural gas supply is “of growing national strategic importance” as Ireland moves towards renewables “supported by flexible gas production “.
His opening statement will describe how the recent closure of the Kinsale gas storage facility and the “continuing decline” in Corrib gas production will leave Ireland dependent on a single source of supply (via our interconnections with the United Kingdom) for 90% of our gas supplies. by 2030.
She says “this means we will not meet the N-1 safety standard” and explains how Ireland would not have the capacity to meet full gas demand in the event of a disruption to the largest source of supply during a day of high demand.
Ms MacEvilly will say that based on a ban on further indigenous exploration and in the absence of viable options for additional gas interconnection, the SRB considers it “prudent” that the ministry’s energy security review of the Environment “includes a review of the future role of LNG”.
Dublin City University professor Barry McMullin will tell the committee that suggestions that the construction of LNG terminals would represent a careful diversification of supply routes are “wrong”.
Among its reasons are “the risk that the foreclosure of additional natural gas supply conflicts with the speed at which we must now exit its use” and “the risks associated with the upstream release of methane in LNG production. [especially via fracking]”.
Eirgrid, meanwhile, will work to reassure Ireland’s electricity supply this winter, saying its contingency plans contain “detailed and sophisticated procedures.”
He will point to the return to full service of two gas-fired power plants as the basis of his ‘positive’ view of the situation and explain how Irish wind turbines mean that ‘when the wind blows we have more than enough margins’.
However, the agency will also say that an extended period of no wind will expose a “tightness” of the system and a reduced ability to call on supplies from Britain for help.