The Public Sector has Saved €2.5 Billion in Energy Spend since 2009, According to Report

Public bodies have avoided an estimated €2.5 billion in energy spend since 2009, the Annual Report on Public Sector Decarbonisation and Energy Efficiency Performance for the year 2022 shows. The 345 public bodies and 3,015 schools that reported collectively improved their energy efficiency since the 2009 baseline by 32.5%, which is an increase of 1% from the previous year.

The report published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) also sets out that non-electricity greenhouse gas emissions in 2022 were 3.9% below the baseline (2016-2018 average), while total greenhouse gas emissions in 2022 were 17.3% below the same baseline.

While these figures show that the public sector is moving in the right direction, there is a need for a significant acceleration to get onto the trajectory required to meet 2030 national and EU targets for energy efficiency and decarbonisation of the public sector.

New EU directives place additional requirements on public bodies for 2030, given the public sector’s role in leading by example. The new Energy Efficiency Directive 2023/1791 sets out that the public sector must achieve an absolute energy consumption reduction each year of 1.9% (baseline 2021) which amounts to an over 15% reduction in consumption in the period to 2030 and will be challenging to achieve as public services grow in line with population increases. Significant population growth and public sector expansion over the last decade means that, in absolute terms, energy consumption in the public sector has not reduced significantly over that timeframe.

The new annual absolute reduction target for the public sector will provide additional impetus for public bodies to accelerate energy reduction actions and to further decouple energy usage from activity. Case studies of public bodies that successfully implemented the ‘Reduce Your Use’ campaign for public bodies in the last year can be found on SEAI’s website and are a good example of practical measures public bodies can take immediately to reduce their energy consumption.

Announcing the publication of the report today, Minister of State for the Environment, Climate and Communications Ossian Smyth TD, said “Today’s report on Public Sector Energy Use in 2022 demonstrates that Ireland’s public sector has achieved a lot in terms of energy performance, but has further challenges ahead as it works to lead by example and deliver on climate action and energy targets in the short, medium and long-term. Energy consumption must be reduced by public bodies and the pace of retrofit and renovation must be increased. A concerted effort will be required by all public bodies to achieve new more challenging targets.”

Declan Meally, Director of Business, Public Sector and Transport at SEAI said “Building momentum on the significant savings already made will be key if the public sector is to reach their 2030 climate targets and ultimately set a pathway towards net zero in 2050. SEAI is partnering with all organisations and departments across the public sector to help them realise their climate ambitions. The Pathfinder Programme is a key initiative which has played a huge role in demonstrating how the public sector can achieve this significant saving. Since it was launched in 2017, the Pathfinder Programme has supported over €200 million in public sector projects. SEAI will continue to work with the government to close the current gaps and accelerate delivery to achieve the targets. There are now more advanced supports available to public bodies through SEAIs Public Sector Partnership Programme which helps large organisations save money, improve the environment, and meet national energy saving obligations.”


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