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Image More energy required to hit renewable energy targets, according to SEAI
Image Rob Flynn
Staff Writer

The Energy in Ireland report found a 1.6% increase in overall energy use across all sectors in 2018, with a surge in effort required if Ireland is to meet its 2020 emissions targets.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has launched the 18th edition of its Energy in Ireland report, detailing the key trends and drivers of energy use in the Republic of Ireland. 

Figures from the report reveal that Ireland is still way off hitting its 2020 Renewable Energy Share (RES) targets, with the persistent question of how these figures can be achieved looming large over the emerging trends.

We take a look at the facts and figures and assess what it all means for consumers. 

Who is the SEAI?

The SEAI is Ireland’s national sustainable energy authority. It works with householders, businesses, communities and government to create a cleaner and sustainable energy future.

The SEAI is funded by the Government through the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, and offers grants to transform home energy efficiency.

The state of energy in Ireland

Overall energy use increased by 1.6% in Ireland in 2018 while energy-related CO2 emissions fell by 1.2%.

However the report reveals that Ireland is still a long way from hitting its 2020 renewable energy targets with renewables currently accounting for only 11% of gross final energy consumption in the state, against an overall 2020 target of 16%. This represents a modest 0.5% overall increase in renewable energy in 2018 compared to 2017.

Despite still being off-target the 11% meant Ireland still avoided €620 million of fossil fuel imports and 4.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The energy required for heating our homes and businesses was the real under performer though. Just 5.5% of the country's heating came from renewable sources in 2018 against a 2020 target of 12%, and down 0.2% compared to 2017.

Households remain the largest consumers of energy for heating, accounting for 44% of demand.

Transport saw a similar 0.2% decrease, coming in 2.8% below a target of 10% for 2020.

Transport continues to be the largest energy-consuming sector in Ireland, taking a 42% share of energy consumption, and 2018 saw a disappointing 2.9% increase in energy-related CO2 emissions from the sector.

There was some good news when it came to the generation of electricity, however, with 33.3% of electricity generated in Ireland coming from renewable sources in 2018, a 3.1% increase compared to the year before.

Ireland’s electricity output is now greener and cleaner than ever with 2018 seeing a 14% decrease in the carbon intensity of our electricity compared to 2017. This was in part due to an increase in wind energy (+16%) and a substantial decline in coal usage (-44%) as well as peat use (-3%). However we're still short of our 2020 target of generating 40% of our electricity from renewable sources.

Sectors

Current Position

2020 Renewable Target

Overall

11%

16%

+0.5% point increase from 2017 to 2018

Transport

7.2%

10%

-0.2% point decrease from 2017 to 2018

Heat

6.5%

12%

-0.2% decrease from 2017 to 2018

Electricity

33.2%

40%

+3.1% point increase from 2017 to 2018

What this means

Ireland is still a long way off meeting its 2020 renewable targets. Quite simply more must be done to ensure the production and uptake of renewable energy in Ireland in 2020 and beyond.

A monumental effort will be required from Government and society-at-large to commit to the decarbonisation of our energy sources, especially considering 2018 saw a 0.10% increase in demand for fossil fuels, although this was still 15% lower than in 2005.

With transport remaining the largest energy-consuming sector, increased investment must be made towards the electrification of transport (and heat) in the coming years, with both sectors still heavily relying on fossil fuels.

As Government plans to further invest in the commuter rail network, as well as other forms of public transport, the reduction of inefficient and carbon-intensive electricity generation is of utmost importance, and while the trend towards greener electricity production is a good sign, more work needs to be done.

What do you think?

Has your energy use increased this year? Are you paying more for your electricity and gas? We’d love to hear what you think of the report and what the next steps are for Ireland’s energy future.

Leave us a comment with your thoughts below or drop us a message on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.