Energy 

In 2020, emissions from energy industries have decreased by 7.9% on 2019, mainly because of reduced use of peat and increased renewables, such as wind, for generating electricity. Overall, GHG emissions from energy industries accounted for 15.0% of Ireland’s national total emissions in 2020. Over the period 1990-2020, emissions from electricity generation have decreased by 21.2%, whereas total electricity consumption has increased by 139.5%. 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.

In 2020 the energy industries sector was responsible for 15.0% of Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions  

 

Highlights

Current trends

resized

 

  • Greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 7.9% in 2020
  • 31% reduction in GHG emissions since 2016
  • In 2020, emissions were 23.3% below 1990 levels

Cause

  • Decreases due to significant reduction in peat use
  • Increased renewable energy electricity generation and switch from carbon intense fossil fuels to natural gas

Outlook

  • Announcements made to phase out coal and peat indicated that we can expect these emissions savings to be maintained into the future. However, this is dependent on fuel prices and the need for coal in cases of low wind generation.

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.

The provisional GHG inventory figures estimate emissions in the energy industries sector decreased by 7.9% which is largely attributable to a decrease in consumption of peat by 51% for electricity generation. There were increases in the use of coal (23.7%), natural gas (1.8%), oil (36.6%) and biomass of 27.8% for electricity generation.  In 2020, electricity generated from wind and hydro increased by 15.3% and 5.2% respectively, reflected in a 8.1% decrease in the emissions intensity of power generation in 2020 (295 g CO₂/kWh) compared with 2019 (321 g CO₂/kWh). Renewables now account for 42.1% of electricity generated in 2020 (up from 37.6% in 2019).

Energy industries show a decrease in emissions of 23.3% over the period 1990 - 2020. Over this period, emissions from electricity generation decreased by 21.2% whereas total electricity consumption increased by 139.5%. Emissions from electricity generation increased from 1990 to 2001 by 54.2% and decreased by 51.4% between 2001 and 2020. This decrease reflects the improvement in efficiency of modern gas fired power plants replacing older peat and oil-fired plants, reduced coal and peat use and the increased share of renewables, primarily, wind power along with increased interconnectivity with the UK electricity grid. As a result, 2019  was the lowest year in the 31-year time series for coal-fired electricity generation, 76% less than in 2018, and 2020 was the lowest for peat-fired electricity generation 52% less than 2019, which reflects the gradual phasing out of coal and peat-fired electricity generation for market and climate reasons.

Under the With Existing Measures scenario, emissions from the energy industries sector are projected to decrease by 11.9% to 8.6 Mt CO2 eq over the period 2021 to 2030.

Under the With Additional Measures scenario, emissions from the energy industries sector are projected to decrease by 35.2% to 6.3 Mt CO2 eq over the period 2021 to 2030. Under this scenario it is estimated that renewable energy generation increases to approximately 70% by 2030.