Solar panels Photo: US Navy
Solar panels Photo: US Navy

Energy targets won’t be met despite bumper year for renewables

March 5th, 2019

Ireland will not meet its 2020 renewable energy targets despite hitting new records for renewables on the electricity grid, a new report from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has found.

According to the energy body’s Renewable Energy in Ireland report, the latest available data indicates that a record 10 per cent of our total energy came from renewables in 2017.

Yet, the report finds, Ireland is still lagging behind our European counterparts, ranked 26 out of the 28 EU countries for progress towards the bloc’s mandated 2020 renewables targets.

This comes despite the fact that Ireland has the third highest share of wind-generated electricity of all EU Member States. In 2017, 30 per cent of our electricity was generated from renewable sources, 84 per cent of which came from wind.

Ireland has committed to a target of 16 per cent of total energy from renewable sources by 2020. The report shows that just over 10 per cent of energy consumed in Ireland in 2017 came from renewables, with fossil fuels making up the remainder.

Transport represents the single largest sector of energy use, but the lowest share of renewables, the report found, with 97 per cent of transport energy reliant on oil-based products.

Urban rail services have traditionally been the biggest users of electricity for transport, however the number of electric cars on the roads is increasing from a low base, the report found.

Wind turbine, Ballyrogan, Dundonald Photo: Albert Bridge

“We need to accelerate the pace of change,” according to Jim Gannon, CEO of SEAI. “We need to make progress in all areas of energy use and rapidly increase the adoption of renewables across heating and transport, if we are serious about reducing Ireland’s carbon emissions.”

He added: “A transition to a largely electrified passenger fleet, along with the consideration of alternative fuels such as biogas and hydrogen for commercial, public transport and freight are necessary in decarbonising our transport system.”

The Minister for Climate Action, Richard Bruton TD, said it is clear from the report’s findings that “we need to step up our ambition”.

“The window for opportunity is closing and we must respond urgently. The all of government Climate Plan will be published shortly. This will show a range of actions across sectors of society with clear timelines. Our focus will be on implementation and lifting Ireland’s ambition,” he said.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said that the report shows the “failing of this Government when it comes to tackling climate change”. 

“We are near the bottom of the European league for introducing renewable power. That is going to cost the country both in fines for missing our renewable targets and in the missed opportunity from turning to our own local power supplies,” he said.

Mr Ryan called for immediate action by the Government to bring in a ban on fossil fuel heating systems in new builds and to put solar power on every public building with a south facing roof.

He also called for new regulations so every public car park, shopping centre car park and large petrol station has to have a certain number of fast charging points installed.

About the Author

Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London

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