Ireland is not on track to meet its binding EU target of 16% of energy to come from renewable sources by 2020, a new report by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has found.
The Renewable Energy in Ireland 2020 report, which is based on 2018 data, shows that renewable energy sources supplied 11% of overall energy use in 2018.
The remainder came from carbon-intensive fossil fuels.
Ireland’s energy usage
Energy is commonly split into three uses: electricity, transport, and heat. In 2018, 33% of electricity was generated from renewable sources, largely due to increased generation from wind.
Solar PV accounted for 0.1% of renewable electricity in 2018.
The story for transport and heat is different. Transport has the largest share of energy use, and in 2018, 97% of transport energy was from oil-based products.
The vast majority of renewable energy in transport came from biofuels blended with petrol and diesel, with renewable electricity used by DART, Luas and electric vehicles accounting for approximately 1%.
The report found that Ireland is also under-performing in renewable heat and ranked 27th of the 28 EU countries in 2018. Over 93% of Ireland’s energy for heat comes from fossil fuels.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton said: “This report is based on 2018 data which pre-dates the Climate Action Plan. The findings underline the importance and urgency of the work set out in that plan.
“I am convinced that the all-of-government approach underpinned by new climate legislation is the way forward. However, getting back on track for our 2030 target is only the first step.
“We now need to identify how we can increase that ambition and set new targets for 2030 and 2050. As we design a recovery plan from this present COVID crisis, we need to do everything possible to rebuild on a sustainable foundation, consistent with confronting the climate emergency,” the minister said.
Jim Scheer, head of data and insights at SEAI, said the report demonstrates the challenges Ireland faces in transitioning away from fossil fuels.
“Most of the energy we use to generate electricity, to heat our homes and business and for transport comes from burning fossil fuels like gas, coal, peat and oil. We need to eliminate energy waste and transition to using more renewable sources of energy like wind, solar, heat pumps and bioenergy as quickly as we can.
“The Government’s Climate Action Plan sets out an ambitious course of action that could help us to kick our fossil fuel habit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As citizens, we can play our part by considering how we can reduce fossil fuel use in our homes and how we travel.”