10% of Ireland’s energy came from renewable sources but it is not nearly enough, according to SEAI

More than 10% of Ireland’s total energy came from renewable sources in 2017, according to a report by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

2017 was a record year for renewables on the Irish electricity grid, despite that, Ireland will not meet 2020 renewable energy targets.

Ireland is ranked 26 out of the 28 EU countries for progress towards 2020 renewables targets.

“We need to accelerate the pace of change,” said Jim Gannon, CEO of SEAI. “Collectively and individually, we need to take greater advantage of the renewable resources available to us here in Ireland.”

The report is clear that Ireland will not meet these renewables targets, despite a strong performance in renewable electricity. In 2017, 30% of electricity was generated from renewable sources, largely due to increased generation from wind, which accounted for 84% of all renewable electricity.

“We are performing well in renewable electricity,” Mr Gannon said. “The latest data shows that Ireland has the third highest share of wind generated electricity out the 28 EU countries.”

The report finds that while reducing the carbon intensity of electricity is critical to meeting Ireland’s climate change objectives it is simply not enough on its own. The country needs 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.

Mr Gannon said, “There has been a large increase in the use renewable heat in the residential sector, due to the growing adoption of air-source heat-pumps. The adoption of district heating systems and sustainable bioenergy for direct use can also make strong contributions to reducing emissions from heating.  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.”

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton said, “It is clear 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.”

Ireland has committed to a target of 16% of total energy from renewable sources by 2020. The report shows that 10.6% of energy consumed in Ireland in 2017 came from renewables, with the remainder coming from carbon intensive fossil fuels.

The minister acknowledged that transport represents the single largest sector of energy use, but the lowest share of renewables. In 2017, 97% of transport energy was from oil-based products. “The vast majority of renewable energy in transport came from bioenergy with renewable electricity accounting for approximately just 1%. Urban rail services have traditionally been the biggest users of electricity for transport, however the number of electric cars on the roads is increasing, albeit from a low base,” Minister Bruton said.