Ireland is the worst-prepared country in Europe for the energy crisis, according to the Chair of the Irish Academy of Engineering.
It comes amid reports Ireland’s planned emergency power generators will not be in place in time for the winter.
The Business Post reports that the situation means the State will have no option but to reduce electricity demand or face blackouts this winter.
The paper reports that the Commission for Regulation of Utilities considering a new system which will charge large energy users - mainly data centres - extremely high rates at peak times.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Don Moore, Chair of the Energy and Climate Action Committee at the Irish Academy of Engineering said Ireland has failed to prepare for this scenario over many years.
“I still think it is a low enough prospect, but the consequences of power outages are just enormous and we’ve got ourselves into this situation,” he said.
“We are the worst prepared country in Europe at this point in time, for a variety of reasons.”
He said the biggest issue facing the country is that we have no gas storage facilities.
“The country at the very end of the European network has no gas storage,” he said.
“Generally, you store gas in spent gas fields or in salt caverns or wherever. Germany has 100 days of gas storage and during the summer, it is busily filling that gas storage to actually even out the heavy demand during the winter.
“Austria has a year’s gas storage. We have chosen not to have any gas storage and we had an option – the Kinsale gas field, which is now depleted, we could have used that. We could have pumped gas back into that during the summer like other countries.
“We chose not to spend the money on that and we have dismantled the infrastructure there so we don’t have that option.”
Mr Moore said Ireland is also the only coastal country in Europe without Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) importation infrastructure.
He said the country has several options should the gas shortage become a reality – all of which involve burning higher emission fuels.
These include burning oil distillate instead of gas, reopening the peat-fired plants in the midlands and extending the lifespan of the Moneypoint coal-fired plant past its 2025 retirement date.
He said the Irish Academy of Engineering remains committed to Ireland’s Climate Action Plan but insisted that the country will still need to be burning gas until the late 2030s.
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