RENEWABLE ENERGY IN IRELAND: 2019 REPORT (SEAI)

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. If you’re interested in finding out how Ireland Inc is performing from a renewable energy point of view, I’ve abstracted the following key-points from the raft of statistics & graphs that are contained within the above document. Though it is entitled the 2019 report (published in January 2019), effectively it deals with the 2017 year.

So here goes!

The key points from the Report are as follows:

PROGRESS TOWARDS 2020 TARGETS:

  • 10.6% Renewables- overall (Binding EU Target: 16%)
    • Ireland is not on track to meet its 2020 renewable energy targets; Ireland’s performance ranked 26th in EU28 for progress towards 2020 renewable energy targets in 2016
    • Ireland’s performance ranked 22nd in EU28 for overall renewable energy share in 2016
  • 30.1% RES-E (electricity) (National Target: 40%)
    • Almost a third of electricity comes from renewables, which displaced €278M of fossil fuel imports
    • Ireland ranked 3rd out of EU28 in respect of share of wind-generated electricity, but only 13th in respect of overall renewable electricity in 2016
    • It should be borne in mind that electricity only accounted for 21% of Gross Final Consumption in 2017.
  • 7.4% RES-T (transport) (Binding EU Target: 10%)
    • Transport has the biggest share of energy use, but the smallest share of renewables
    • Irelands performance ranked 18th in EU28 for renewable transport in 2016
    • More than 90% of the RES-T contribution came from bioenergy (90% biodiesel, 10% biogasoline). However, 84% of liquid biofuels used in transport were imported
    • Less than 1% of renewable transport energy comes from electricity (mainly DART, Luas & EV’s)
    • The number of electric cars increased in 2017 to 2,718 (Side Note: 1,233 electric cars were registered in 2018; 1,437 electric cars were registered in the first 3 months of 2019 alone)
  • 6.9% RES-H (heat) (National Target: 12%)
    • Ireland’s performance ranked 27th in EU28 for renewable heat in 2016
    • Almost 80% of RES-H comes from solid biomass
    • The RES-H contribution from heat pumps has increased by 28%
    • The greatest increase in renewable heat energy has come from use of renewable wastes in cement manufacture

CARBON EMISSIONS

  • The contribution of renewable energy avoided 4.2Mt CO2 emissions in 2017, of which 65% is accounted for by wind. However, as electricity generation is part of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the emissions savings does not contribute towards the non-ETS emission reduction targets. However, electrification of heat & transport does contribute towards meeting the non-ETS GHG emission reduction target.

TRANSPORT

  • This sector is hugely challenging as it has the highest dependency on fossil fuels, lowest penetration of electrification & lowest share of renewables compared to the other sectors. It also has the highest final energy demand at 42%.
  • Though the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) mandates a 10% RES-T target, there are weighting factors (WF) in place to help achieve this target & also to act as drivers towards certain pathways:
    • WF = 2 for advanced biofuels, biofuels from waste
    • WF = 2.5 for electrification of rail transport
    • WF = 5 for electrification of car transport (EV’s)
  • The application of these weighting factors has had a very significant impact on progress towards RES-T targets (4.1% without weightings, 7.4% with weightings in 2017), as evident from the following graph:
  • The share of renewable transport energy (without weightings) in 2017 was:
    • 81% Biodiesel
    • 18% Biogasoline
    • 1% Renewable Electricity
  • The drive towards biofuels is largely driven by the Biofuels Obligation Scheme (BOS) which grants certificates for blended biofuels that meet minimum sustainability criteria – the 2017 target was 8.696% by volume. First generation biofuels are awarded one certificate per litre, while two certificates per litre are awarded for advanced biofuels and biofuels from waste, per RED specifications. 100% of biofuels in 2016 & 2017 qualifies for double certificates. However, the carrying forward of certificates from previous years reduces the amount of biodiesel required to meet BOS obligations in certain years.
  • The contribution of liquid biofuels being produced indigenously has remained flat over the 2009-2017 period– it represented 16% in 2017, with the balance of 84% being imported.

HEAT

  • This sector refers to heating & cooling. It has the second highest final energy demand at 37%. It does not include renewable electricity used for heating & cooling.
  • Though the RES-H share has doubled to 6.9% in 2017, the absolute increase was 67% – the balance resulted from reduced heat demand. (It is clearly evident that energy efficiency measures will be a positive driver for increased RES-H share).
  • The RES-H contribution in 2017 was broken down by source was as follows:
    • Biomass                 79%        (wood, wood wastes, solid wastes)
    • Ambient                 13%        (heat pumps)
    • Solar Thermal         5%           (solar thermal panels to produce hot water)
    • Biogas                    3%           (produced from anaerobic digestion)
  • The RES-H contribution in 2017 was broken down by sector was as follows:
    • Industry                                      64%
    • Residential                                 21%
    • Commercial & Public Services  15%

ELECTRICITY

  • The RES-E contribution in 2017 was broken down by source was as follows:
    • Wind                                          84%
    • Hydro                                        8%
    • Biomass & Renewable Waste   6%
    • Landfill Gas                               2%
    • Solar PV                                    0%           (negligible, but 2165% increase over 2010-2017)
  • Wind Energy
    • 532MW capacity installed during 2017, bringing total installed capacity to 3,318MW. A peak wind-power output of 2,444MW was recorded on Feb 17th 2017, which represented 66% of system demand at that point. Such non-synchronous integration presents unprecedented operational challenges for EIRGRID, the grid operator, which has rolled out the DS3 program to meet these challenges while achieving 2020 RES-E targets.
  • Hydro
    • There is a total of 212MW hydro capacity connected to the transmission system, while a further 26MW of hydro capacity is connected to the distribution system
    • The 292MW pumped hydro station in Turlough Hill is not classified as renewable
    • In 2017, hydropower generated 2.3% of gross electricity (normalised to 2.4%)
  • Biomass & Renewable Waste
    • In 2017, 369GWh of electricity was produced from biomass at the co-fired Edenderry Power Station, with a further 16GWh produced from biomass CHP
    • In 2017, 151GWh of electricity was produced from renewable wastes at the two waste-to-energy plants in Dublin & Meath
  • Solar PV
    • In 2017, there was a total PV capacity installed of 11.9MW (residential) & 3.8MW (commercial/industrial). However, only 1MW of residential PV capacity was connected to the grid – there are currently no export tariffs available.
    • However, the PV sector is growing rapidly with 245MW installed capacity contracted for connection to the transmission grid by mid-2018.

15/5/19