RENEWABLE ENERGY IN IRELAND: 2020 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 2020 Report (published in April 2020), effectively it deals with the 2018 year.

The key points from the Report are as follows:

PROGRESS TOWARDS 2020 TARGETS:

11% Renewables (overall) – up from 10.5% in 2017 (Binding EU Target: 16%)

  • Ireland is not on track to meet any of its 2020 renewable energy targets
  • Irelands has the 2nd lowest progress among EU Member States towards 2020 renewable energy targets in 2018, while it ranked 23rd of EU MS in respect of renewable energy share.
  • 66% of renewable energy in 2018 was renewable electricity.
  • 55% of renewable energy in 2018 was from wind.
  • 36% of renewable energy in 2018 was from bioenergy.

33.2% RES-E (electricity) – up from 30.1% 2017 (National Target: 40%)

      • Ireland ranked 12th among EU MS in respect of overall renewable electricity in 2018.
      • It should be borne in mind that electricity only accounted for 18.9% of Gross Final Consumption in 2017.
      • 358MW of additional wind capacity was installed in 2018.

The Climate Action Plan targets 70% electricity from renewables by 2030

7.2% RES-T (transport) – down from 7.4% 2017 (Binding EU Target: 10%)

      • Transport has the biggest share of energy use, but the smallest share of renewables
      • Irelands performance ranked 13th among EU MS for renewable transport in 2018.
      • More than 98% of the RES-T contribution came from bioenergy (88% biodiesel, 10% biogasoline). However, 82% of liquid biofuels used in transport were imported
      • 1% of renewable transport energy comes from electricity (mainly DART, Luas & EV’s)
      • The number of electric cars registered in 2018 increased to 4,428, up from 2,718 in 2017. By the end of 2019, there were a total of 8,473 EV’s registered & a further 6,305 plug-in hybrids registered.

The Climate Action Plan targets 1,000,000 electric vehicles by 2030.

6.5% RES-H (heat) – down from 6.7% 2017 (National Target: 12%)

      • Irelands performance ranked 2nd lowest among EU MS for renewable heat in 2018, which is the biggest reason for Ireland’s failure to meet the overall RES-E target.
      • 78% of RES-H comes from solid biomass
      • The RES-H contribution from heat pumps has increased to 14% 

The Climate Action Plan targets installation of 600,00 heat pumps by 2030.

CARBON EMISSIONS

The contribution of renewable energy avoided 4.9Mt CO2 emissions in 2018 (up from 4.2Mt CO2 in 2017), of which 82% is accounted for by renewable generation of electricity. 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

  1. 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%.
  2. 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:
    1. WF = 2 for advanced biofuels, biofuels from waste
    2. WF = 2.5 for electrification of rail transport
    3. WF = 5 for electrification of car transport (EV’s)
  3. The application of these weighting factors has had a very significant impact on progress towards RES-T targets (3.2% without weightings, 7.2% with weightings in 2018), as evident from the following graph:

  1. The share of renewable transport energy (without weightings) in 2018 was:
    1. 82% Biodiesel
    2. 18% Biogasoline
    3. 1% Renewable Electricity
  2. 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 target from 2017 was 8.696% by volume (increasing to 11.11% in Jan 2019 & 12.36% in Jan 2020). 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, incl 2018.
  3. The contribution of liquid biofuels being produced indigenously has remained flat over the 2009-2017 period– it represented 18% in 2018, with the balance of 82% being imported.

HEAT

  1. This sector refers to heating & cooling. It has the second highest final energy demand at 38%. It does not include renewable electricity used for heating & cooling. The sector is dominated by solid biomass (78%), particularly in industry. The use of ambient temperature accounted for 14% approx of renewable heat in 2018.
  2. Though the RES-H share has nearly doubled to 6.5% in 2018 (from 2005), the absolute increase was two-thirds – 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).
  3. The RES-H contribution in 2018 was broken down by source was as follows:
    1. Biomass 78% (wood, wood wastes, solid wastes)
    2. Ambient 14% (heat pumps)
    3. Solar Thermal 4% (solar thermal panels to produce hot water)
    4. Biogas 3% (produced from anaerobic digestion)
  4. The RES-H contribution in 2018 was broken down by sector was as follows:
    1. Industry 64%
    2. Residential 22%
    3. Commercial & Public Services 14%

ELECTRICITY

  1. The RES-E contribution in 2018 was broken down by source was as follows:
    1. Wind 85%
    2. Hydro 7%
    3. Biomass & Renewable Waste 6%
    4. Landfill Gas 1%
    5. Solar PV 0.2% (58% over 2017)
  2. Wind Energy
    1. 358MW capacity installed during 2018, bringing total installed capacity to 3,676MW (an additional 461MW was installed during 2019, bringing the total installed wind capacity to 4,137MW). 
    2. A peak wind-power output of 3,058MW was recorded on 12 Dec 2018 (peak wind power in 2017 was 2,444MW, recorded on Feb 17th 2017); this represented 69% of system demand at that point. 
    3. Such non-synchronous integration presents unprecedented operational challenges for EIRGRID, the grid operator, which has rolled out the DS3 program to enable the operation of the electricity system in a secure manner while meeting the 2020 RES-E targets. 
  3. Hydro
    1. In 2018, hydropower generated 694GWh – 2.2% of gross electricity (normalised to 2.3%)
    2. (The 292MW pumped hydro station in Turlough Hill is not classified as renewable)
  4. Biomass & Renewable Waste
    1. In 2018, 321GWh (321GWh in 2017) of electricity was produced from biomass at the co-fired Edenderry Power Station, with a further 13GWh (16GWh in2017) produced from biomass CHP
    2. In 2018, 302GWh (151GWh in 2017) of electricity was produced from renewable wastes at the two waste-to-energy plants in Dublin & Meath
  5. Solar PV
    1. There was a total PV capacity installed in 2018 of 24.2MW approx (17.7 MW residential & 6.5MW commercial/industrial).
    2. It is estimated that a total of 16.7GWh was generated from solar PV in 2018.
    3. However, the PV sector is growing rapidly with 706MW installed capacity contracted for connection to the transmission grid by end of 2019.

6/5/20

Ireland is not on track to meet its 2020 renewable energy targets; Irelands performance ranked 26th in EU28 for progress towards 2020 renewable energy targets in 2016
Irelands performance ranked 22nd in EU28 for overall renewable energy share in 2016