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SEAI Publishes Ireland’s Interim Energy Balance for 2022

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) published the Interim Energy Balance for 2022, which gives a preliminary picture of the supply and transformation of Ireland’s national energy portfolio.

SEAI observed significant increases in demand for road diesel, motor petrol and jet fuel, all of which increased our dependency on imported fossil fuels. The increases in transport fuels are largely due to COVID rebounds, with more movement of goods and services across the country. International aviation was the sub-sector worst impacted by COVID, and the last to recover, but has almost fully rebounded to pre-COVID levels. While transport emissions in 2022 were up 6.5% on the previous year, they are 4.4% lower than in 2018 – the baseline year for the calculation of our carbon budgets, and the overall 2030 target of a 51% reduction in GHG emissions.

Margie McCarthy, Director of Research and Policy Insights, commented, “the interim balance tells us that, as a nation, we are back on the roads, and in the skies. While we are technically on track in 2022 against the transport emission ceiling in our carbon budgets, we must acknowledge that that is substantially as a result of COVID travel restrictions in 2021. We cannot afford to slip back towards old habits. Ireland requires fast policy implementation and commitment from everyone, across all sectors, if we are to meet our targets. We need transport emissions to fall quickly and consistently. Walking, cycling, or taking public transport where possible can all play a big part. If you must use a car, then consider an electric vehicle or carpooling. Our individual actions, matched with public services, are essential to changing the emissions associated with our transport.”

SEAI’s analysis also showed significant reductions in the natural gas, heating oil, and solid fuels used for heating our homes and businesses, and to drive industrial processes in factories. This resulted in a 1.1 MtCO2 reduction in energy-related emissions. This reduction explains how Ireland’s overall energy-related emissions fell, despite the substantial increase in transport emissions.

Margie McCarthy, commented, “the reduced heat demand in our homes and businesses was greater than what can be accounted for by temperature effects, efficiency improvements, fuel-switching, or workforces returning to offices. It seems likely that the primary driver of the reduced demand was the increased price of heating fuels. SEAI’s full Energy Balance in September will provide a more detailed sectoral breakdown and more definitive values. The reduction in heat emissions can be attributed to the types of behaviours that we should aim to continue, through positive efforts like Reduce Your Use. But we must ensure that people, especially the most vulnerable, don’t go cold. Significant global shocks like COVID and the war in Ukraine have recently been amongst the biggest drivers of change in Ireland’s energy demand. But we need to concentrate on supporting people to make sustained long-term changes, to use energy more efficiently, outside of such shocks.”

The annual energy-related emissions in Ireland’s carbon budgets fell by 1.9% in 2022 and are now 7.3% lower than in 2018. Emissions from electricity generation in 2022 were down 2.1% on the previous year, due to greater use of wind, and less use of coal, oil, and peat for electricity generation. However, at the end of 2022, when we were 40% through the 2021-2025 carbon budget period, electricity had already emitted half of its allowance. The electricity sector is therefore off track and will exceed its emission ceiling unless substantial cuts are made in the second half of the budget.

Margie McCarthy, commented, “our emissions reduced in 2022, meaning we are beginning to reverse increases experienced in 2021, But the current reductions are much too slow to stay within our carbon budgets. Every year that we underachieve against our targets makes the challenge much harder for future years. Positively, we see growing numbers of heat-pumps and solar-PV installed in people’s homes, and more EVs on our roads. Our choices are important. We must keep the fossil fuel elimination front-of-mind. Achieving our renewable energy target for electricity by 2030, matched with the phase-out of coal, oil and peat in electricity generation is a fundamental part of the short journey to the end of this decade.”

Source: SEAI

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