Ireland’s power generation and industrial emissions drop by 8.7 percent in 2019

Date released: April 22, 2020

  • In 2019, greenhouse gas emissions from Irish power generation and industrial companies fell by 8.7 per cent
  • Emissions decreased by 65 per cent from the ESB coal-fired plant at Moneypoint
  • The decrease in industrial emissions collectively is 3 per cent
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from aviationrose by 2.8 per cent compared to 2018

Emissions from Irish power generation and industrial companies in the EU Emission Allowance Trading System fell by 8.7 per cent (1.3 million tonnes) in 2019.  This mirrors a decrease of approximately 8.9 % across Europe.

The decrease in emissions is due to a significant drop in power generation emissions (a 12.3 per cent decrease) as a result of the strong presence of renewable energy - mainly wind generation - and less use of fossil fuels in our energy mix. Emissions decreased by 65 per cent from the ESB coal-fired plant at Moneypoint, again mainly due to the availability of renewables. 

Aside from power generation, the decrease in industrial emissions collectively is 3 per cent.

  • Cement industries recorded a 2 per cent decrease overall;
  • the dairy industry showed a 3 per cent decrease and
  • emissions from pharmachem industries also decreased by 0.4 per cent.

These decreases are welcome particularly as Ireland experienced strong economic growth in 2019.

Flights within the European Economic Area are also included in the EU Emissions Trading System. Aviation emissions from flights within the European Economic Area reported to Ireland rose by 2.8 per cent compared to 2018, to 12.77 million tonnes.

Dr Maria Martin, EPA Senior Manager, said:

“This is the third year in a row that we have seen a fall in greenhouse gas emissions from participants in the EU Emissions Trading System, mainly power generation and industry. This reflects a positive move to lower use of fossil fuels in electricity generation and an increase in renewables. Aside from power generation, the reductions have been more modest in other sectors and  attributable to a small number of players, with an increase recorded from aviation. We need to see consistent reductions in emissions across all sectors to reach our goal of a low-carbon economy.”

Further details about Emissions Trading are available on the EPA website. Further information about Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions is also available on our website and the EPA has developed this useful Infographic entitled Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions -sources and solutions.

Notes to Editor

EU Emissions Trading System

The Environmental Protection Agency is the competent authority for implementation of the EU Emissions Trading System in Ireland, including the administering of accounts on Ireland’s domain in the Union Registry. Currently there are 102 stationary installations with open accounts and three more are due to open accounts this year. Eleven aviation operators are also currently included in the system, including five large, Irish licensed, commercial airlines.

The EU Emissions Trading System covers large energy users and electricity generators, these are known as “stationary installations”. 103 major industrial and institutional sites were required to report their emissions for 2019 to the EPA by 31 March 2020. .Mobile sources in the form of large aircraft were introduced into the EU ETS for the first time in 2012. Aviation emissions reported to Ireland come mainly from flights in and out of Ireland and also flights anywhere within the European Economic Area (EEA) where the aircraft carrier has an operating licence from the Irish Aviation Authority.

For comparative purposes Ireland's verified EU Emissions Trading System emissions since 2008 were as follows (keep in mind that from year to year the scope of the EU ETS can change somewhat as some installations close and new ones open):

Verified Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Mtonnes CO2) - Stationary Installations:

CO2  20.38  17.22  17.36  15.77 16.89  15.68   15.95  16.83  17.73  16.89  15.51  14.17


European emissions figures: The decrease of approximately 8.9 per cent in 2019 in Emissions Trading System greenhouse gas emissions for stationary installations across Europe, in comparison to 2018, is an estimate reported by External linkCarbon Pulse based on preliminary analysis of EEA wide data published by the EU Commission on 15 April.

Details of the emissions are available on the External linkEU’s website. The data are not complete for all Member States.

Emissions Trading: Emissions trading is a “Cap and Trade” system where an EU wide limit or cap is set for participating installations. The cap is reduced over time so that total emissions fall. Within that limit “allowances” for emissions are auctioned or allocated for free (outside the power generation sector). Individual installations must report their CO2 emissions each year and surrender sufficient allowances to cover their emissions. If their available allowances are exceeded an installation must purchase allowances. If an installation has succeeded in reducing its emissions, it can sell its leftover allowances.  The system is designed to bring about reductions in emissions at least cost, and is envisaged to play an increasingly important role in assisting European industry implement the type of reductions envisaged in the EU Commission’s limit of at least an overall 20 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2020.