Ireland could face an energy catastrophe by 2030 if over-reliance on UK-sourced gas supplies is not eased.
One leading energy expert, Don Moore, warned that, unlike other European countries, Ireland has no adequate storage reserve for gas with all supplies delivered via the UK.
His warning came amid fears that Ireland could face electricity blackouts or brownouts over the coming years because of a shortfall between energy generation and demand.
Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has admitted that Ireland’s electricity supply will be “very tight” up until 2025 though he insisted that two gas-fuelled power stations in Cork and Dublin will come back on stream before December, easing the immediate situation.
However, Ireland is now involved in a race to develop and commission renewable energy generation sources to replace older power stations being taken out of commission such as the turf-fired stations closed in the midlands.
As the economy revives from the Covid-19 pandemic and electricity demand surges – spurred in part by a move to electric vehicles – pressure on power generation will soar.
Mr Moore, who is chairman of the Irish Academy of Engineering’s Energy and Climate Action Standing Committee, said Ireland is critically dependent on gas supplies delivered via UK networks and should consider strategic options.
“By 2030 the UK will be importing 75pc of its gas. If the UK is short of gas, are they going to export gas to Ireland?
"I doubt that very much,” he told Radio Kerry.
“Most European countries have storage facilities. Ireland has no adequate (reserve) supply of gas.
"It will be essential for electricity generation so you could have a catastrophic situation by 2030 and beyond if we weren’t able to access gas in the normal way.”
Mr Moore said that a liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal – allowing the import and storage of LNG – would offer a strategic and secure alternative for the Irish economy and future growth in energy demand.
Crucially, it would allow Ireland to develop an alternative source of gas supplies as a strategic national asset.
It is viewed as a transitional option to secure supply until renewable energy generation sources are expanded.
The Government has warned it will not consider any new LNG development projects until a national strategic review of energy supplies is completed.