Communications Energy and Natural Resources, Dáil Issues, Oral Questions

To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on whether permission to build permanent infrastructure for fossil fuel storage, such as the Shannon LNG project, will lock Ireland into dependence on fossil fuel imports in conflict with transition objectives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. 

 For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 5th February, 2019.

REPLY: I have announced the preparation of an All of Government Climate Action Plan which when complete will set out how we can make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. The plan will build on existing policy and will focus action across Government in all sectors of the economy that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

The National Mitigation Plan, published in July 2017, restates the Government’s commitment to move from a fossil fuel-based electricity system to a low-carbon power system. Investment in further renewable generation will be incentivised.

The new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme, the high level design of which was approved by government in July 2018, will provide for a renewable electricity ambition of 55% by 2030. Currently, 30% of our electricity is generated from renewables.

In all projected transitions to a low carbon economy by 2050, gas will continue to play a role. It plays an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the power generation, industrial and commercial, residential and transport sectors by replacing more CO2 intensive fossil fuels. In Ireland gas powered generation also provides an important back-up for intermittent renewable wind generation.

So while gas usage will reduce significantly in the years ahead, Ireland will still need secure sources of gas. At present this is provided by both gas piped on shore from Irish gas fields and imports through gas pipelines from the UK.

The development of an LNG facility could further enhance Ireland’s gas security of supply by increasing import route diversity and would be compatible with the State’s commitments to tackle climate change.

Ireland’s energy policy is fully aligned with the EU’s climate and energy objectives on the transition to decarbonisation, which includes continuous and on-going review of policies to reduce harmful emissions, improve energy efficiency, incentivise efficient and sustainable infrastructure investment, integrate markets, and promote research and innovation while ensuring our energy security of supply is maintained and enhanced.