A vital need to store natural gas
Why is gas storage needed? Shouldn't Northern Ireland focus on renewable energy?
We generate 60% of electricity from natural gas and have to import our entire gas requirement.
Our location at the western limit of the European gas transmission network and its reliance on overseas gas markets makes it vulnerable to the consequences of any disruption to gas supplies on a local and/or regional level. A gas storage facility in Northern Ireland will permit the more efficient use of its existing gas infrastructure and safeguard its ability to meet the increasing peak gas demand, while providing a greater degree of security of supply.
Northern Ireland has a target to generate 40% of electricity from renewables by 2020, primarily through wind power. A shift to renewable energy sources is likely to result in an increasing reliance on gas-fired power stations to support the fluctuations in supply from the intermittent nature of wind. Gas storage facilities, such as this project, will be important to respond to the rapidly fluctuating gas supply demands.
Why use salt for gas storage and why does it have to be in Islandmagee?
Deep underground storage is one of the safest and most environmentally responsible methods of storing natural gas.
Pure salt, or halite, is an ideal medium for gas storage as it is impermeable to gas and can be easily dissolved in water to create a cavity deep underground.
The area around Larne Lough is the only onshore site on Ireland where salt deposits suited for gas storage use have been found.
Is underground storage safe?
Salt caverns have been used to store natural gas in Europe and worldwide for more than 40 years and have proved a very safe and efficient means of storing gas.
The potential hazards and risks associated with the storage of natural gas in salt caverns are well understood and effective safety standards have been developed.
(Source: Islandmagee Storage).