Carbon Capture and Storage is a technology that can capture up to 90% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced from the use of fossil fuels in electricity generation and industrial processes, preventing the carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

As part of Ireland’s commitment to a low-carbon economy by 2050 it will need to reduce its annual emissions from 60 million tonnes to c.11 Mt per annum in 2050. For the gas sector, emissions would have to drop down from approximately 9Mt to below 1.8 Mt by 2050 to meet the 80% decarbonisation target.

Ervia and Gas Networks Ireland have therefore developed a long-term vision to outline how we could play our part in decarbonising Ireland and in particular the electricity, heating and transport sectors. Our vision is to utilise natural gas as a ‘Bridging Fuel’ out to 2030 and then decarbonised gas as a ‘Destination Fuel’ out to and beyond 2050.

Why does Ireland need CCS?

Ireland has a large percentage of its electricity needs met by intermittent renewable generation which needs low-carbon dispatchable generation to back it up – for example, when the wind isn’t blowing. 

In 2019, Gas Networks Ireland will introduce Renewable Gas onto the Irish Gas Network for the first time. Over the next five years we plan to construct five Renewable Gas injection facilities with a total combined annual capacity of 1,790GWh. That is enough energy to heat over 145,000 homes with a 100% carbon neutral fuel. By 2030 we are targeting that 20% of total gas demand will be met by Renewable Gas.

As Ireland continues its transformation to a low-carbon economy and society by 2050, a KPMG report, commissioned by Ervia, found that the installation of electric heat pumps in a million urban homes would be more complex than using renewable gas for homes close to the state-owned gas network.  In fact, the study found that using renewable gas in the state owned gas network can drastically reduce CO2 emissions generated by heating one million homes at a third of the cost of electric heat pumps currently incentivised by the Government.  

In addition,  developing CCS on gas-fired power generation will be critical for Ireland’s energy mix.  According to Ireland’s National Mitigation Plan;

"CCS could facilitate decarbonisation of our electricity sector while allowing an appropriate level of gas fired generation to balance intermittent renewable generation."

The Government has also set an action to carry out a feasibility study into utilising suitable CO2 storage sites for storage stating that;

"A feasibility study should be undertaken to determine the potential application of CCS in Ireland in the future."

Cork shows potential to be an ideal location for CCS

Cork has unique attributes which combine to provide an opportunity for the first full chain CCS project within the European Union.

  • The soon to be depleted Kinsale Energy offshore gas field is due to be decommissioned in 2020/2021.  This low pressure field on first look by the SEAI and GSI in 2008 looks to be a suitable reservoir for CO2 storage. Further analysis will take place over the coming years to ensure that it is a suitable, secure storage site.
  • Existing local infrastructure (Kinsale Gas Field, Whitegate, Aghada and Inch) could potentially be repurposed for a CCS project.
  • The two combined cycle gas turbines in the area are relatively modern and may be suitable for post-combustion carbon capture.
  • The offshore pipeline, that first carried natural gas to Ireland, could potentially be reutilised to carry CO2 back to where the natural gas came from, offshore and deep beneath the seabed.

There is a large industrial cluster in Cork.  The opportunity to be supplied with low-carbon electricity would attract more industry and jobs to the local areas.

Feasibility study of CCS in Ireland

Ervia is investigating the potential for a large-scale CCS project in Ireland to capture the CO2 from a number of gas-fired CCGT power plants so that they provide low-carbon electricity. Initial findings suggest that CCS may be technically and economically viable for Ireland and over the next few years Ervia will progress feasibility studies into the technology for Ireland.  We engage with local stakeholders on our plans at every relevant opportunity – for more information, please contact our CCS Communications Manager at corkccs@ervia.ie