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Energy, Electricity and Climate Action

Published: 30 December 2019
From: Department of the Taoiseach

1. Introduction

Energy industries were responsible for 17.1% of Ireland’s greenhouse gases in 2018, down from 19.3% in 2017.

This sector accounts for emissions from fuels combusted in electricity generation, waste to energy incineration, oil and natural gas refining, briquetting manufacture as well as fugitive emissions from oil and gas production, transmission and exploration.

It is important that we decarbonise the electricity that we consume by harnessing our significant renewable energy resources. By doing this we will also become less dependent on imported fossil fuels.

Protecting Ireland’s energy security is critical during this transition. A comprehensive independent energy security review will be completed during 2020 to examine the key issues including the role of gas in electricity generation, interconnection and battery storage as back-up for renewables, to ensure security of supply. The review will also consider, in a scientific way, how and from where fossil fuels are sourced during the transition to a carbon neutral economy.

2. Actions and targets

Key measures set out in the Climate Action Plan to improve the energy sector, include:

  • Increase reliance on renewables from 30% to 70% adding 12GW of renewable energy capacity with some of this delivered by private contracts.
  • Phase out coal and peat electricity generation.
  • Put in place a coherent support scheme for micro-generation with a price for selling power to the grid.
  • Open up opportunity for community participation in renewable generation as well as community gain arrangements.
  • Streamline the consent system, the connection arrangements, and the funding supports for the new technologies on and off shore.
  • Continue EirGrid’s ambitious multi-year programme, Delivering a Secure, Sustainable Electricity System (DS3).

3. Actions completed to date

Phasing out fossil fuels
  • Government accepted the advice of the Climate Change Advisory Council , which outlined that the exploration and recovery of new offshore oil reserves, is not compatible with a low carbon transition, however offshore natural gas reserves can be consistent with a low carbon transition.
Ensuring security of supply
  • EU funding secured for the Celtic Interconnector . The Interconnector will connect Ireland's electricity network to France via an underwater connection of some 575kms. Once built, its 700 megawatts capacity will power 450,000 households, and help Ireland to switch to 70% renewable energy as set out in the Government's Climate Action Plan.
Harnessing renewable energy
  • In December, Government approved the key design features of the first Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) auction. The RESS is an auction-based scheme which invites renewable electricity projects to bid for capacity and receive a guaranteed price for the electricity they generate. The first auction is set to open early next year, subject to State Aid approval and will deliver up to a 3,000GWh increase in renewable electricity generation by the end of 2022. Terms & Conditions for the RESS First Auction were published on 27 February 2020.
  • The Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will also play a critical role in harnessing the potential of our offshore renewable energy resources and the transition towards a sustainable, secure and competitive energy system and in meeting our climate change goals. The General Scheme of the MPDM Bill was approved by Government on the 17th of December 2019.
  • A public consultation on proposed revisions to the Wind Energy Development Guidelines was held in February 2020. These guidelines are crucial to delivering the step up that is required to meet our renewable targets. A key part will be ensuring local communities are consulted on and benefit from projects in their area.
  • EirGrid published its Tomorrow's Energy Scenarios 2019 report which outlines credible pathways for Ireland’s clean energy transition with specific focus on what this means for planning for the future of the electricity transmission system over the next twenty years.
  • Establishment of a working group on micro-generation and renewable self-consumption. Facilitating citizens to become involved in the energy transition is key for enhanced public engagement and empowerment on climate action, including removing blockages experienced to date as these measures aim to address.

What can I do?

For more information on how you can use electricity and energy more efficiently and cut energy costs in your home, see here.

Please click here to return to the main climate action page.