Is that not premature, though, as Corrib will eventually supply up to 60% of our gas, and the prospects from the last two licensing rounds off the south coast also look promising. It might be more strategic to make sure that the Bantry oil terminal and Middleton gas terminal stay operational while we sit out the depletion of the Kinsale Head field and wait for new developments. An LNG terminal needs its own complicated infrastructure, including a regasification plant. Admittedly, Corrib has a limited lifetime, and there are difficulties persuading IOCs to prospect for oil offshore Ireland due to current low prices, with few prepared to consider it for gas prospects alone (although there is at least one proposal to develop gas en route to oil). I wouldn’t strongly disagree with LNG but maybe the ESRI’s idea that we should sit on our hands for a few more years to see how things pan out is the most sensible option. Their point is that if you go off half cocked you end up with the wrong technology for 25 to 40 years.
Most people (apart, maybe, from tree-hugging loons) seem to take the view that we’ll need a mix of generation capability for the foreseeable future. There’s no near-term prospect that renewables can replace current base load generation even if they can provide an increasing fraction of the mix. Those countries committed to GHG reductions will very much have to face the question of what provides the next generation of base load power. The aforementioned ESRI paper considers clean coal vs. nuclear for Ireland, for when the Moneypoint coal plant goes offline in 2025. The answer will probably be “gas”, although that introduces the security of supply concerns noted by Skippy 3 above, with the prospect that we would be just as dependent on gas in 2025 as in 2010 in spite of greatly increased wind generation expected by then.