Shannon LNG to seek approval to build €650m gas plant in Kerry

US-backed company says power plant and batteries will promote renewable generation

An aerial view of an LNG distribution station facility. Photograph: iStock

An aerial view of an LNG distribution station facility. Photograph: iStock

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US-backed Shannon LNG will seek An Bord Pleanála’s permission to build a €650 million liquefied natural gas plant and power station in Co Kerry in the coming days.

The company announced plans for the project recently after the courts struck down its earlier bid to build an LNG plant on the same site in Ballylongford on the Shannon Estuary.

Shannon LNG recently put up notices at the 600-acre (243 hectare) site, which it must do up to two weeks before applying for permission.

It is likely to formally seek permission from An Bord Pleanála under strategic infrastructure planning laws in the coming days.

Shannon LNG will submit its new application against a background of growing concerns about the security of future electricity supplies.

Demand is rising, but several electricity plants face closure in coming years. Meanwhile, Ireland will have to import 90 per cent of its natural gas via a pipeline from Scotland by the end of the decade.

Organisations including State-owned Gas Networks Ireland say the country will need alternative sources of the fuel, vital to electricity generation, including potentially an LNG plant.

However, Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said last May that it would not be appropriate to proceed with any LNG terminal here, including Shannon, pending the outcome of an energy needs review, due to be finished next year.

Ballylongford will cost Shannon LNG €650 million. Its key elements are a 600 mega watt (mw) gas-fired electricity generator, an LNG terminal and batteries to store up 120mw of power.

A terminal will import natural gas that has been cooled to -160 degrees Celsius to cut its volume for shipping.

A floating plant will reheat this to return it to gas, from where it will be supplied to the power plant and national supply network.

Shannon LNG’s site notice states that the terminal will be able to supply up to 22.6 million cubic metres of natural gas per day.

That notice states that the power plant will include three turbine halls, each equipped with two turbines, ancillary buildings and 35m exhaust stacks.

Renewable generation

Shannon LNG says the power plant and batteries, designed to respond quickly to electricity demand, will back up renewable generation.

Sam Abdalla, vice-president of project development with Shannon LNG’s shareholder, US-based New Fortress Energy, said the plan would tackle “Ireland’s shortfall in stable electricity generation” and secure gas supplies.

“This first phase of development will create 70 long-term direct jobs, once operational, with an average of 270 construction jobs over a three-year construction period,” he added.

The site’s master plan includes proposals for up to eight data centres that could provide a further 400 jobs.

About 100 acres at Ballylongford will be needed for the power plant and LNG terminal, with the data centre “campus” taking up part of the remaining land.

An Bord Pleanála determined that the proposal fell under the terms of the Planning & Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act, 2006 last June.

Consequently the board will deal directly with Shannon LNG’s application.

Shannon LNG is seeking 10-year planning permission for the project and began consultations with An Bord Pleanála in 2019.

It originally received permission for an LNG terminal at the site in 2008, but Friends of the Irish Environment last year succeeded in getting the High Court to overturn An Bord Pleanála’s decision to extend this.

While the Government hopes renewable generators will supply 70 per cent of Irish electricity needs by 2030, natural gas is likely to produce the remaining 30 per cent.