Energy security report calls for Ireland to develop large gas storage facilities – The Irish Times

A landmark report on Ireland’s energy security suggests that Ireland should develop large gas storage facilities to reduce the risks posed by any future disruptions to supply.

Storage of publicly owned gas on land or a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal are two options that international re-port consultants have identified as ways Ireland can enhance energy security over the next eight years.

The publication of the report on the security of Ireland’s energy supply to 2030 comes against the backdrop of the crisis caused by the Russian war in Ukraine, rising energy bills for homes and businesses, and fears that Ireland may suffer from blackouts this winter.

Alliance leaders will meet tonight [Monday] To continue discussing preparations for next week’s budget, with helping companies facing rising energy costs expected to be the focus of their discussions.

Ahead of the meeting, Environment Secretary Eamonn Ryan will unveil an energy supply security review of Ireland’s electricity and natural gas systems, which was conducted by independent experts at Cambridge Economic Policy. It examines the potential risks to Ireland’s natural gas and energy supply, and examines a range of measures to mitigate these risks. These include the need for additional capacity to import energy, develop energy storage, diversify fuels, and bring renewable gases such as hydrogen into the stream.

The review will be the subject of a public consultation period until the end of October, before recommendations are submitted to the government for approval.

Options included in the document include the development and strategic use of a state-owned gas storage facility that can be filled from the gas network, and operate during periods when there is a material risk of demand disruption in Ireland. Public comments from Mr. Ryan in recent weeks indicate that he supports this proposal.

However, the review also identifies other options including the use of floating LNG terminals at times when there is a risk of disruption to supplies to Ireland. The government has not joined many other European countries in seeking to secure such floating stations.

The green side has significant concerns about the use of LNG because some producers use the environmentally harmful fracking process to extract the gas. Others in government – notably at Fine Gael – believe that the use of LNG should not be ruled out. It is Government policy that it would be inappropriate to allow the development of any LNG terminals in Ireland or proceed before the outcome of the Energy Security Review.

Another option in the review is to accelerate energy efficiency and diversify the fuel away from gas towards renewable fuels.

Concerns about Ireland’s ability to generate enough electricity this winter have led to energy conservation measures for the public sector, such as turning off thermostats in offices, as well as advice for households to limit their use during peak hours between 5pm and 7pm.

Soaring bills saw the prospect of a windfall tax on energy company profits being included in the budget to help finance a billion-euro cost-of-living package to support struggling families.

The government is leaning towards more electricity bill credits similar to the €200 deduction earlier this year to help families pay their utility bills on the option of capping electricity prices, which is seen as a risk to the state’s public finances in the event of a price increase.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar on Sunday outlined measures under consideration to help businesses, including low-cost loans, large grants to energy-heavy exporters and manufacturers. He also said that the possibility of stable repayment or a way to provide a discount on bills for SMEs is also being explored. “Obviously the goal is to make sure that viable but vulnerable businesses remain, and that the jobs of the people who work there are protected,” he told RTÉ.