A number of environmental groups have challenged research by the Economic and Social Research Institute that Irish consumers would pay significantly less for their gas if liquefied natural gas, or LNG, facilities were given the go-ahead.
The research showed that combining imports of LNG at a proposed terminal on the Shannon estuary with a storage facility at Islandmagee, in Co Antrim, would lower household gas bills.
The projects, which have the backing of the EU to integrate European energy markets, would lower prices, as Ireland could tap into world market prices, which are significantly lower, and help the country to transfer from oil and coal.
But the green groups, which include Safety Before LNG, Friends of the Irish Environment, and Friends of the Earth, said the ESRI bulletin didn’t take account of the costs of climate change involved in LNG gas “and the economic consequences related to the need to fully decarbonise our economy by 2050”.
In an open letter to the ESRI, the groups claim that there are hidden costs with LNG.
“LNG is a very capital- and energy-intensive industry. There is also an operational expense and a shipping expense.
“On top of that, the process is complicated and requires up to 25% of the energy content of the gas, making it, therefore, a risky bet for a country that counts on gas, at a time when we need to get completely off fossil fuels,” the letter said.
“Wind and solar are now cheaper than coal and fossil gas in many regions. This means new fossil gas capacity often displaces new wind and solar, rather than old coal,” it said.