Ireland has turned down a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal, citing its climate impact.
“The country’s planning authority last month refused a proposal for [the terminal] on the Shannon estuary and a related gas-fired power plant, after taking into consideration policies outlined in Ireland’s energy and climate action plan,” Bloomberg News reports. “The strategy calls for the country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions annually by 7% on average between 2021 and 2030.”
- Concise headlines. Original content. Timely news and views from a select group of opinion leaders. Special extras.
- Everything you need, nothing you don’t.
- The Weekender: The climate news you need.
The decision makes Ireland “probably the first” country to deny an LNG facility based “on climate, as opposed to local environmental opposition,” Jonathan Stern, distinguished research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, told the news agency.
“U.S. LNG developer New Fortress Energy Inc. had sought to build a floating terminal in Ireland for LNG imports, which would supply a 600-megawatt power generation plant,” but “there were early signs that it would have a tough time getting approved,” Bloomberg writes. In April, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan told parliament the government’s policy is “to move away from natural gas—especially if it’s been produced via hydraulic fracking, meaning ‘it would not be appropriate for Ireland to permit or proceed with the development of any LNG terminals’.”
Now, Ireland is just weeks away from launching a review of its energy security needs, Bloomberg says. Ryan has kept the door open for a “back-up” role for gas while the country’s grid converts to renewable energy. But while the review might recommend some form of LNG development, he told national broadcaster RTE, the supply would be “strategic”, not commercial.
“The dilemma for Ireland is its relative isolation from the rest of European energy markets,” the news agency writes. “Two years ago, Ireland’s electricity grid warned it might run low on energy during the winter periods over the next five years. This makes the refusal of an extra gas import facility a brave move.”
In that light, Stern told Bloomberg, all eyes will be on a national renewable energy strategy that includes moves to increase onshore wind capacity from 4.59 to 6.0 gigawatts by 2025. “It will be interesting to see what they intend to do in terms of supply in future and, if [they reach] 100% renewables, how they intend to deal with the intermittency,” he said.
Ireland has set a 2030 deadline to generate 80% of its electricity from clean sources, the news story states. Renewables currently stand at 37% of its electricity mix.