EPA Welcomes IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation

The EPA has welcomed publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Renewable Energy sources and Climate Change mitigation (SRREN). The report shows that global potential for renewable energy is substantially higher than both current and projected future global energy demand. This is the case globally and in most regions of the world.

Currently less than 3 per cent of the globally available renewable energy is being used. This means that more than 97 per cent is untapped. Realising this resource would be a major step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy. The report projects that 80 percent of the world’s energy supply could be met by renewable sources by 2050 if enabling policies are put in place.

Commenting on the report Dr Mary Kelly, EPA director general, says: “This is a timely report given the choices we need to make on energy investment, here in Ireland, in Europe and internationally. It shows the potential of renewable energy technologies to provide energy solutions which also have wider economic, social and environmental benefits, including their potential to cut air pollution and improve public health, and increase energy security.”

The six renewable energy technologies reviewed are: bioenergy, direct solar energy, geothermal energy, hydropower, ocean and wind energy.

The report states that the cost of most renewable energy technologies has declined. Some renewable energy technologies are already economically competitive. Technical advancements are expected to further reduce costs. Increasing the share of renewables requires additional short-term and long-term integration efforts. There is a need for advanced technologies to optimize the infrastructure capacity for renewable an area in which Ireland has active research.

The IPCC report notes that enabling policies and measures are required to ensure rapid deployment of many renewable sources. Research is also required to overcome technical barriers. The deployment of renewable energy will benefit from testing centres for demonstration projects.

Two experts from Ireland were lead authors for this IPCC report – Professor Tony Lewis of the Hydraulics & Maritime Research Centre, University College Cork and Professor Mark O’Malley of University College Dublin.

Renewable Energy in Ireland

Ireland is committed to the deployment of renewable energy and aims to reach the European Commission target of 20 per cent of its total energy mix by 2020. Ireland is also implementing its National Renewable Energy Action Plan which all Member States were required to submit in 2010. This plan sets out how we intend to reach EU wide renewable energy targets.

Currently, the majority of Ireland’s renewable energy is generated using onshore wind with a small contribution from offshore. Bioenergy is a growing area through the establishment of bioenergy crops such as miscanthus and rapeseed oils as well as traditional forestry biomass. In the agricultural sector, technologies such as biomethane generation from grass and anaerobic digestion of farm and food wastes have the potential to play a key part in mitigating emissions from this sector. There are proposals in place for a state of the art research test bed in Belmullet for wave energy test site in Belmullet. Irish companies such as WaveBob and Ocean Hydro have already gained international attention for the potential of their technology.

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