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Editor's Pick: SEAI: Transport takes the largest share of energy in Ireland

Ruth Young Ruth Young Training Consultant
25th February 2020

This article was originally published on 14 January 2020 in Energy Spectrum Ireland

Energy-related CO2 emissions fell by 1.2% in 2018, according to the latest publication of Energy in Ireland, an annual report by the SEAI which presents the key trends in energy production and consumption.

Published on 12 December 2019, the report shows how Ireland's energy system is evolving in response to decarbonisation policy, economic growth and increased demand for energy services. Unusually for Europe, Ireland's overall demand for energy continues to rise, but despite this increased demand, energy-related CO2 emissions fell slightly. The largest contributing factor to this fall was the reduction in coal used for electricity generation due to a technical fault at coal-fired generator, Moneypoint.

The report marks Ireland’s performance against the Renewable Energy Targets which state at least 16% of gross final energy consumption (GFC) must come from renewables by 2020. This is a mandatory target under the EU Renewable Energy Directive and is typically split into three modes: Electricity, Transport and Heat. Transport remains the largest energy-consuming mode since 2013, closely followed by heat. Electricity is consistently the smallest share of final demand.

Across all modes, energy sourced from renewables was up 0.5% in 2018. This was due to a 3.1% increased share in renewable electricity. Transport and heat showed a decrease in renewables share due to demand growth, which resulted in a fall in emissions of 12.6% in electricity but a rise of 6.9% in heat and 2.9% in transport. The sectors contributing the largest share of energy-related CO2 emissions were:

·         Transport (40%): Private vehicles accounted for more than two thirds of transport’s final energy demand but did not contribute to the rise in transport emissions which was caused in the most part by aviation. Energy use for air travel reached an all-time high in 2018 and is now second only to private cars as a share of transport energy. Electricity in transport is currently consumed mostly by the DART system and Luas, but 2018 saw a growth of 0.3% due to increasing numbers of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road.

·         Residential (24%): When accounting for weather effects, residential energy use rose by 5.5% in 2018 compared to 2017. Direct fossil fuel use in households increased by 8.3%, with oil still dominating. Direct renewables use in households also grew by 8%.

·         Industry (21%): Fossil fuels accounted for more than half of energy use with a growth of 4.8% in 2018, met by increased use of natural gas. The direct use of coal and oil has reduced significantly in industry since 2005.

These figures represent energy-related activity only and make up 59% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The share for direct agriculture activity is 34%, demonstrating the significant role of agriculture in the Irish economy.

The data shows that Ireland is making progress on the transition to sustainable energy almost entirely in electricity, but demand continues to rise in all areas. With the 2020 energy targets missed there is an urgent need to drive the transition from fossil fuels across all sectors to meet Ireland’s ambitious targets for 2030 in the Climate Action Plan. This seeks to put 950,000 EVs on the road by 2030 and double the rate of home retrofits, ensuring homes are improved to a B2 Building Energy Rating (BER).

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The Energy Spectrum Ireland (ESI) service captures key developments across the energy sector and offers a timely, insight-driven overview of the need-to-know news and changes in the industry. The service comprises of two publications: Energy Spectrum Ireland, published monthly, and Ireland Energy Weekly Bulletin. 

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