The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) have published the Interim Energy Balance 2021, which shows that Ireland’s energy use increased by 4.3% last year. This follows a decrease in 2020, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most notably, there has been a rebound in demand for oil-products, particularly for transport as travel restrictions have eased. The figures underline the challenges arising from Ireland’s high dependency on imported fossil fuels.
Energy-related CO2 emissions increased by 6.3%, faster than our energy use, largely due to the types of fuels we had to use, particularly in electricity generation. A combination of low-wind periods in 2021, and less rain for hydro-generation meant that less of our electricity came from renewable sources. Coupled with temporary closures on some gas fired generation stations, this led to a tripling of coal and oil use for electricity generation, both extremely carbon intensive fuels. The implementation of national plans to increase the renewable electricity share to 80% by 2030 involves generating energy from onshore and offshore wind and solar PV. These plans include the development of increased renewable energy storage to mitigate variability in renewables into the future.
Margie McCarthy, Director of Research and Policy Insights, said, “the Government passed into law carbon budgets that call for an annual reduction of 4.8% in energy-related CO2 emissions in late 2021. The emissions in 2021 are clear signals of how important it is to deliver the actions identified in our national Climate Action Plan, without delay. We need to make the shift away from fossil fuels to renewables much quicker to ensure a clean and secure supply of energy. The reasons to reduce fossil fuel dependency are clear and will help insulate us from large scale increases in gas and oil prices. We need to both increase our generation of renewable electricity, and switch to technologies driven by this clean energy. The most secure unit of energy is the one we either don’t use, or that we source from Irish renewables.”
“We encourage businesses, citizens and communities to utilise existing Government supports and make whatever changes they can to move away from fossil fuel use now. While the scale of the climate crisis can seem overwhelming, the benefits of collective action to move away from fossil fuels will create a better Ireland, with improved air quality, more comfortable homes, more vibrant communities and an economy built on sustainable industries and jobs.”
SEAI offers a range of Government funded supports for householders, businesses, and communities who want to reduce their fossil fuel use, including grants for home energy upgrades, EVs, and energy upgrades to businesses and community buildings. For information on these supports and advice on how to reduce your energy bills, visit seai.ie.