The Irish Times view on Ireland’s energy security: much work to do

A new report on energy security makes for uncomfortable reading - and provides an agenda for action

The critical findings in a new report on Ireland’s energy security are confirmation of the need to develop substantial gas storage facilities on a temporary basis to reduce the risks posed by any future energy supply disruptions. Given the current energy crisis – exacerbated by the Ukraine war – the main focus is understandably on gas and electricity. But this analysis by independent experts Cambridge Economic Policy Associates (CEPA) goes far beyond immediate threats to energy supply and prices. It makes for difficult reading, underlining national failures to anticipate energy needs and a lack of clarity on how to maintain power supply while weaning the State off fossil fuels.

There has been an unacceptable level of risk tolerated for far too long in the Irish energy system, arising from poor power grid infrastructure, rising energy demand, and colossal fossil fuel imports. We stand out in the EU in having no gas storage capacity. The one beacon of hope has been increasing quantities of wind energy accommodated on a flexible grid. Ireland’s import dependency is at too high a level and there is an over-reliance on oil and gas, much of which is sourced from outside the EU and OECD.

Vulnerability has been heightened because the Corrib gas field will soon be exhausted and there has been a failure to put in place sufficient gas-fired power generation. The report shortlists a range of measures which should be taken, including the development of green hydrogen, managing demand, increasing electricity interconnection and scaling up biomethane production and storage. It accepts the need for a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal or an onshore State-backed gas storage facility– but only if this is operated as a back-up. These options must be used on a temporary and limited basis to prevent locking-in reliance on polluting fuels.

The Green Party has concerns over LNG because much of it is fracked and gives rises to pollution. Others in Government – particularly Fine Gael – believe LNG should not be ruled out. The CEPA recommendations offer the basis for pragmatic compromise. Development of a State-owned gas storage facility that could fill the gap during periods in which there is a risk of demand disruptions has considerable merits.


There is, of course, a grave risk of falling back on reliance on fossil fuels. Some 3.5 trillion tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be emitted, the Global Registry of Fossil Fuels has predicted, if governments allow identified reserves of coal, oil and gas to be extracted and used. Some big economies are already giving in to temptation. Ireland should not follow suit but pursue other immediate options as set out by CEPA, while accelerating the scale-up of renewables, particularly by removing barriers to wind and solar development.