Shannon LNG, the project which wants to set up a natural gas plant and power station in County Kerry, Ireland, is due to apply for planning permission, according to reports.
The project, backed by US-based Fortress Energy, would import fracked fossil liquid natural gas (LNG) from the US, to generate electricity. Some of the power would be consumed by up to eight data centers on a new campus. The group has been allowed to re-apply for planning permission from An Bord Pleanála, the Irish planning board, despite a previous application being thrown out in 2020, and the Irish government's stated policy of not importing fracked US gas. According to the Irish Times, the application is expected in the next few days.
Notices at Shannon estuary site
Shannon LNG has put up notices at the Ballylongford site announcing it will be applying for permission to build the €650 million ($760m) plant there. Under strategic infrastructure planning laws, it must apply to An Bord Pleanála for permission to build.
Demand for electricity is rising rapidly in Ireland, but a report from the Irish Academy of Engineering in 2019 revealed that demand is actually flat, apart from booming growth in the data center sector, which is predicted to use 31 percent of the country's electricity by 2027. While the Irish grid plans to become 70 percent renewable by 2027, this plan is thrown into doubt by an overall increase - which would result in a real increase in the emissions from Ireland's grid.
Environmental campaigners oppose the LNG terminal because it increases Ireland's use of fossil electricity. The country already imports natural gas from Scotland by pipeline. Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan has said that a new LNG terminal would "not be appropriate".
Environmentalists argue that further data centers make Ireland's renewable plans unworkable by increasing demand, and have opposed data centers in Ennis and elsewhere.
The proposed terminal would supply up to 22.6 million cubic meters of natural gas per day, with the power station operating three turbine halls, each with two turbines. Eight data centers on the site could provide 400 jobs, according to the project plan.
Professor Barry McMullin of Dublin City University told DCD that Ireland should avoid additional electrical loads if it hopes to reach net-zero in time to help with the climate emergency.
"Given the severity of the crisis and how little time we now have, I would say, the emergency response should be planning for at least the next 15 years, and possibly longer, to set a significant contraction in absolute energy use," Professor McMullin told DCD in a conversation about the Ennis site. "Expanding your electricity supply, in order to service the migration of energy use from heating and transport into electricity is not unreasonable. But expanding your electricity supply to do things that you're not doing at the moment at all? That's a different proposition."
Ireland's People Before Profit party are in the process of trying to pass a bill that would place an absolute ban on data centers, Liquid Natural Gas plants, and new fossil fuel-related infrastructure.