Ireland has not met its mandatory target of 16% renewable energy by 2020, according to a new report from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
SEAI has released its annual Energy Ireland 2021 Report that looks at trends in energy use and related carbon emissions in 2020.
It found that the total share of renewable energy in Ireland last year was 13.5%.
Ireland and other EU countries have a number of EU greenhouse gas emissions targets.
In a recent statement to the magazineThe Ministry of Environment, Climate and Communications, said the latest estimates indicate that Ireland will need to buy an additional 3.8 million credits to comply with the goals of the decision to participate in the European Union’s efforts, which will cost between 6 million and 13 million euros.
Ireland has reached its target for renewable transport energy in the European Union of 10% and the share of renewable electricity was 39.1%, just below the 40% target for this sector.
The country has achieved half of its target for renewable heating and cooling – 6.3% instead of 12%.
Energy from renewable sources grew 8.9% in 2020. SEAI is the official source of energy data for Ireland.
Ireland’s total energy use fell last year by nearly 9%, which the Atomic Energy Association of Ireland (SEAI) said was « largely due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic ».
Energy-related emissions also decreased by 11.4%. She said these are the most significant annual cuts since 2009, during the recession.
SEAI CEO William Walsh said « virtually all reductions » in energy consumption were from the transportation sector. Domestic and international travel restrictions were in effect at various points in 2020 due to the pandemic.
« However, early data from 2021 indicates that energy use in the transportation sector is returning to pre-Covid-19 levels, » Walsh said in a statement.
It is noteworthy that the reduction in CO2 emissions seen in 2020 is less than the amount that would have to be achieved each year from 2021 to 2030 to achieve our long-term decarbonization goals.
“Now more than ever, it is imperative that we accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuels using energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and increase sustainable energy practices across all sectors.”
Energy consumption in the transportation sector fell by about a quarter in 2020.
The fuel consumption of land vehicles decreased by 13.6% for diesel and 25.9% for gasoline in 2020.
Peat use fell by a third last year, which SEAI said is mainly due to the halving of peat used to generate electricity.
However, emissions from heating increased slightly. This is mostly due to increased oil use, the agency said.
42% of the total electricity generated last year came from renewable sources. Emissions from electricity must fall by 62-81% by 2030 under government climate plans.
Walsh said that « as a society, we will need to implement huge changes, and fast » for Ireland to meet its legally binding targets of cutting emissions by 51% by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050.
« We can create a better country in the process with more vibrant communities, better air quality, more comfortable homes, cleaner energy sources, and an economy built on sustainable industries and jobs – rather than a country based on fossil fuels. »
EU member states can achieve their emissions targets under the effort-sharing decision through allocations for unused emissions from previous years, purchase of allowances from other EU countries or purchase of international credits.
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As part of this, Ireland must reduce emissions by 20% from sectors outside the EU’s emissions trading system. This includes agriculture, buildings, transportation and waste.
In a statement to the magazineThe Ministry of Environment, Climate and Communications said EU member states could meet their ESD targets through unused emissions allowances from previous years, buying allowances from other EU countries or buying international credits.
Ireland has paid a total of €50 million through December 2020 for a « statistical conversion » of renewable energy to make up for the shortfall in achieving targets. This included 37.5 million euros paid to Estonia and 12.5 million euros paid to Denmark.
“One of the conditions of the agreements was that Estonia/Denmark use the revenues received to accelerate the deployment of renewable electricity production in the respective member states, to achieve the EU’s renewable energy targets and the National Renewable Energy Targets and Climate Plans (NECP),” the department said.
Additional reporting by Niall Sargent.
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