Dáil debates

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Development of a Liquefied Natural Gas Facility in Ireland: Statements


2:00 pm

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

When this project was originally put forward in 2008 it was not opposed. We lived in a completely different world then. It was in the middle of a Russia-Europe gas crisis when people across eastern Europe were freezing in their apartments after the gas supply had been cut off. Fracked gas was only in its infancy at the time and we did not have renewable power supplies at the cost competitive rates that are available now. Since then, everything has changed and the Department and Minister must now change their position. The first change was that the European Union responded to the Russia-Europe gas crisis by improving its systems of energy security to ensure gas will flow across the European Union efficiently and securely given the risk that Russian gas supplies will be cut off.

The Minister said that Britain's exit from the EU might increase risk. Our gas supply comes through Northern Ireland and I cannot see any possibility in any type of Brexit of that gas flow being shut off. One area of agreement across all the Brexit talks is that we will maintain an all-Ireland energy market and the energy links between the UK and the rest of Europe. The UK is also exposed because its security of supply depends on gas imports from the Continent. For this reason, I do not buy the argument on security.

Having observed the proposed LNG project over the years, I understood that it was dead in the water years ago because there is no economic case for it. I recall that the regulator made various calls related to the allocation of costs for the gas grid network which effectively scuppered the project. Nothing has changed in that regard. The only potential change is in respect of the only other project Ireland has on the projects of common interest list, namely, the reverse flow on the Moffat interconnector. In that case, it is important to listen to the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators in Europe, ACER, which stated that there had not been a clear cost-benefit analysis done on the project and that the calculations for it had not been explained. That project should not go ahead. Without that project and without change in the Department or the regulatory position whereby the full cost of the grid will not be applied to this terminal, the project will not proceed on economic and environmental grounds.

On a radio programme this morning, a gas industry representative spoke about the opportunities presented by carbon storage. Back in the day, we did a very detailed assessment of the storage potential near the Shannon Estuary. After very detailed analysis by the Geological Survey of Ireland was that we do not have any storage location in the area. Contrary to what the gas executive said today, the economics of carbon capture and storage are completely unproven and the process would cost much more any alternative cost system we could get from developing offshore wind or solar power. There are other ways that we could provide storage and security. The development of hydrogen using electrolysis from wind power to turn into stored hydrogen will probably be how things will develop. Moreover, as the Minister noted, we will have Corrib gas coming in for the next ten or 15 years, which gives us time to make the switch and invest in the renewable zero carbon future.

We cannot bet on or invest in gas. There is already a massive oversupply and an overextension of the numbers of new applications for LNG terminals and pipelines in Europe, which if they are all built and used, will completely blow the European climate plans and budget.

This is key issue in Brussels. There are real issues as to whether the European Investment Bank, EIB, will fund this kind of gas infrastructure. I hope that the Minister's Department and this Government, contrary to the rumours I hear, will take a position within the European Union and say that we will take the money out of that sort of fossil fuel investment and we will keep it in the ground and develop the alternative renewable supply, which is the only secure, safe and safe for the planet energy system we should turn to. We should stop this project in its tracks. It makes no economic or any other sense.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.