Energy 

Sectoral emissions in the Energy Industries sector show an increase of 17.6% in 2021 which is attributable to a tripling of both coal and fuel oil use in electricity generation. There was also a reduction in natural gas use by 8.9% as plants were offline in 2021.   

In 2021 renewables accounted for 34.7%, (down from a high of 42.3% in 2020) and natural gas 49.8% of electricity generated in 2021. In 2021, Ireland also imported almost 1,600 GWh of electricity which would have resulted in additional emissions of over 500 kt of CO2, if generated in Ireland. 

Emissions from electricity generation had decreased year-on-year from 2016 to 2020, but 2021 has seen an increase of 18.8% compared to 2020. The return to using more carbon intensive fuel along with less renewables and natural gas plant availability has played a big part in reversing the trend. 

Note: These pages present provisional 1990-2021 Inventory data using global warming potentials (GWP) from the IPCC's 5th Assessment Report (AR5) (updated July 2022) and the EPA's latest 2021-2030 projections estimates (updated June 2022) using global warming potentials (GWP) from the IPCC's 4th Assessment Report (AR4). 

In 2021 the energy industries sector was responsible for 16.7% of Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions  

 

Highlights

Current trends

  • Greenhouse gas emissions increased by 17.6% in 2021
  • 2021 was the first increase in energy GHG emissions since 2016
  • In 2021, emissions were 9.4% below 1990 levels

Cause

  • Tripling of coal & oil use within electricity generation  
  • Decreased renewable energy electricity generation in 2021, wind -16% & hydro -20%   

Outlook

  • Despite previous announcements made to phase out coal, it’s future use is somewhat uncertain given the increased use in 2021. Fuel prices and the need for coal due to unavailability of enough gas-fired generation and lower renewables must be considered.

Energy industries sector

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.

Sectoral emissions in the Energy Industries sector show an increase of 17.6% in 2021 which is attributable to a tripling of both coal and fuel oil use in electricity generation. In addition, there was a reduction in renewable energy used for electricity generation.

There were increases in the use of coal (245.5%) and oil (236.8%) for electricity generation.  In 2021, electricity generated from wind and hydro decreased by 16% and 20% respectively, reflected in a 11.9% increase in the emissions intensity of power generation in 2021 (331 g CO₂/kWh) compared with 2020 (296 g CO₂/kWh). Renewables accounted for 35% of electricity generated in 2021 (down from a high of 42% in 2020).

Energy Industries show a decrease in emissions of 9.4% over the period 1990 to 2021. Over the time series, emissions from electricity generation have decreased by 10.5% whereas total electricity consumption has increased by 150.5%. Emissions from electricity generation increased from 1990 to 2001 by 54.3% and have decreased by 42.1% between 2001 and 2021. This decrease reflects the improvement in efficiency of modern gas fired power plants replacing older peat and oil-fired plants and the increased share of renewables, primarily, wind power along with increased interconnectivity. This year was the lowest year in the 32-year time series for peat fired electricity generation, 68% less than in 2020. These reductions reflect the gradual ending of peat fired electricity generation for market and climate policy reasons. Emissions from electricity generation had decreased year-on-year from 2016 to 2020, but 2021 has seen an increase of 18.8% compared to 2020.  In 2021, there was a tripling of coal and oil used for electricity generation due to the unavailability of enough gas-fired generation and lower renewables.

 

 

Projected emissions

(Latest update June 2022)

Under the With Existing Measures scenario, emissions from the energy industries sector are projected to decrease by 37.8% to 5.4 Mt CO2 eq over the period 2020 to 2030.

Under the With Additional Measures scenario, emissions from the energy industries sector are projected to decrease by 49.0% to 4.5 Mt CO2 eq over the period 2020 to 2030. Under this scenario it is estimated that renewable electricity generation increases to 80% by 2030.