Ireland set to build new gas-fired power plants to ‘bridge gap’ towards renewables

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Ireland Set To Build New Gas-Fired Power Plants To ‘Bridge Gap’ Towards Renewables Ireland Set To Build New Gas-Fired Power Plants To ‘Bridge Gap’ Towards Renewables
The gas-fired plants will supplement and act as back-up for wind energy. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty
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The Cabinet is likely to give the go-ahead for several new gas-fired power plants to be built over the next decade.

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan will bring a memo on the security of Ireland’s energy supply, which will lay out a policy to build an extra two gigawatts of power generation from gas in the next decade to supplement the transition to renewables as the mainstay of Ireland’s energy.

The gas-fired plants will supplement and act as back-up for wind energy, and although they are powered by fossil fuels, they emit far fewer greenhouse gases than existing coal and other fossil fuel plants.

According to The Irish Times, the new policy statement by the Government will signal to the industry, the regulator and planning authorities that the new power plants are required.

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The two gigawatts stipulated are likely to be provided by four to seven new gas-fired plants, sources say, depending on their size. It will be in addition to about 15 gigawatts of renewable energy expected to be added to the grid in the coming decade, mostly made up of offshore and onshore wind farms, and solar energy.

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Senior Government figures, including the Green Party leader Mr Ryan, conceded this autumn that gas-powered energy would continue to be used even with a substantially increased percentage of renewable power.

Demand for energy is likely to increase over the next decade. Gas will provide the non-renewable portion of the energy connected to the national grid while also providing a back-up for periods of shortages, for example when there is insufficient wind.

In September the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities wrote in a statement that “additional gas-fired generation is vital for the successful delivery of Ireland’s 2030 renewable electricity and climate targets”.

Mr Ryan has also argued that gas-powered electricity will serve to fill the gap as the State moves from relying on fossil fuels to renewables. His stance has drawn some criticism from climate change campaigners.

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