Fuels for Ireland – the organisation representing companies which provide energy for transport, heating, business, agriculture, maritime and aviation – has today set out its plans for the industry to become carbon neutral by 2050.
The organisation’s ambitious plans are contained in a new strategy called ‘Powering today and tomorrow.’ This outlines how forecourt operators, home heating suppliers and other fuel providers are changing how they do business to become more sustainable, while continuing to play a crucial role in powering Irish life.
These transformational changes mean that by 2050, the products which Fuels for Ireland provides will be carbon neutral, with the industry playing a key role in the objective of making Ireland carbon neutral.
“Fossil fuels cannot be the basis of Ireland’s long-term energy plans, or the basis of our industry’s long-term business strategy,” said Kevin McPartlan, CEO of Fuels for Ireland. “This document is about setting out our vision for how our members can support Ireland’s efforts to become carbon neutral by 2050.
“The liquid fuels we provide are being transformed. With the right supports, Fuels for Ireland can play a leading role in making Ireland’s energy transition a reality. Remarkable improvements in engine technology and efficiency have already transformed how we use fuels, now the challenge will be how to change our overall fuel mix to dramatically cut and ultimately eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.”
The strategy, ‘Powering today and tomorrow,’ sets out what this challenge will involve, given Ireland’s current reliance on oil and other fossil fuels. According to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, 97% of Ireland’s transport energy needs in 2018 were met using oil-based products.
To meet the needs of Irish motorists, more and more forecourt operators are now supporting electric vehicle charging. The total number of EV charging points has increased by 50% in the last five years and plans are in place to expand this significantly.
Liquid fuels are being progressively transformed as the amount of biofuel which can be added to motor fuel increases, 330,000 tonnes of carbon emissions are already prevented annually by blending zero-carbon biofuels into petrol and diesel. To accelerate this process, Fuels for Ireland is calling on the new Government to mandate the doubling of ethanol in petrol sold in Ireland as a matter of urgency.
The current E5 blend means that ethanol makes up 5% of the petrol which is used in Ireland’s cars. Doubling the amount of ethanol used by switching to E10 would result in an annual reduction in CO2 emissions of 90,000 tonnes: which would be the equivalent of taking 50,000 cars off the road.
The transformation of liquid fuels goes far beyond the greater utilisation of biofuels, however. Emissions-free hydrogen-fuelled vehicles are likely to play a big role, and plans are in place to establish up to 80 hydrogen fuel stations by 2030. Other exciting new fuel technologies are also going to present major opportunities for fuelling transport while slashing emissions, including compressed natural gas (CNG) and e-fuels.
Transport is not the only area where major changes are afoot. When it comes to our home heating needs, Ireland remains highly dependent on oil, with almost 700,000 homes being heated using kerosene-fired heating systems.
To help boost efficiency and bring about emissions reductions, 20,000 boiler upgrades are carried out every year which deliver an average CO2 reductions of almost 20%. Given that 400,000 older and less efficient oil boilers are in service nationwide, large-scale reductions in emissions are possible in the coming years, and technological improvements will likely lead to significant changes in the liquid fuels mix in the coming decades.
Kevin McPartlan said that Fuels for Ireland welcomes the new coalition’s commitment to achieving major emissions reductions and energy efficiency gains over the next decade, and he called on the Government to enter into dialogue with industry stakeholders to ensure that they succeed.
“Everyone realises that the country cannot change overnight given the essential role that our members’ products currently play in sustaining our economy and supporting our way of life. But the technological improvements and innovations already underway are transforming liquid fuels, and the pace of change is going to accelerate. Working together, we will become carbon neutral by 2050 while continuing to provide Irish people with the fuel they need.
“To bring this positive change about as quickly as possible, we want all solutions to be on the table, because we want all our citizens to have the fuels they need for the lives they lead: now and long into the future,” he concluded.