Harland & Wolff has been given the green light to push ahead with a “vital” gas storage project that could help to ensure security of supply in the UK.
Located in County Antrim, Northern Ireland the Islandmagee Gas Storage project is expected to provide over 25% of the UK’s current natural gas storage capacity.
It will also support the growing demand for gas-fired power development and renewable energy generation throughout the UK and the Irish Republic.
It is being developed by Islandmagee Energy Limited, a subsidiary of Harland & Wolff (LON: HARL – 17.75p), formerly InfraStrata.
The company has been notified by the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) that it will issue the Environmental Consent Decision, Marine Licence, reviewed Abstraction Licence and Discharge Consent for the project.
After reviewing the conditions attached to the draft Marine Licence, Islandmagee Energy has deemed them fair and reasonable – it will be issued by DAERA within the next 28 days.
The issuance of this licence will facilitate the abstraction and discharge of seawater and brine respectively during the cavern formation.
Given the ongoing gas supply crisis within Europe and the critically low levels of gas storage currently available in the UK, Harland & Wolff has described Islandmagee as “vital” to ensuring security of supply and the transition to net zero.
The project’s seven gas caverns have the ability to enable Northern Ireland to become a net exporter of energy to the wider UK.
It is expected to create at least 400 direct and 1,600 indirect jobs during the construction phase, and around 60 direct and 180 indirect jobs during its expected 40-year operational life.
As well as accommodating natural gas, Islandmagee could also be used in the future to store green hydrogen.
Northern Ireland is “uniquely placed” to be a world leader in the production of the fuel, with a series of wind farm and associated hydrogen projects due to be developed within the next decade.
Subject to regulatory approvals, the company believes project can be utilised to transition from the storage of natural gas to a blend of natural gas and hydrogen, and, finally, to hydrogen storage in all its caverns.
John Wood, Harland & Wolff’s Group chief executive, said: “We are delighted to receive the news that the much- awaited Marine License for the Project is now progressing. This marks a major step forward in the Project’s journey, paving the way for the construction of our proposed facility.
“We have worked tirelessly over a two-year period to ensure that our proposals meet and exceed legislative requirements, taking onboard the many comments made by the local community and other stakeholders.
“A lot has changed within the global gas markets over the last two years. The recent energy supply crisis has raised awareness of how vulnerable we are to gas and power markets volatility. Everybody now understands just how important gas storage is for the country’s security of supply and to help stabilise gas prices for the end-consumer.
“We will now work with DAERA to conclude the last set of activities to obtain the formal Marine Licence, after which point, we will review the Project in its entirety to ensure that we reach a Final Investment Decision (FID) as soon as practicable. A further update will be provided to the market in due course.”