Increase In Energy Use In 2015 But Increase In Renewable Energy Too

The official body for sustainable and renewable energy here in Ireland, the SEAI, released their official national energy statistics on November 23rd. The report shows that there had been significant growth in energy use across almost all sectors of the Irish economy in 2015. Energy in Ireland 1990-2015, illustrates the first significant growth in energy use since 2010 at almost 5%. In line with this figure, energy-related CO2 emmissions increased by 6%. Both of these figures are understandably put in the context of strong economic growth in 2015 within the report.

Greenhouse Gas Emmissions

When looking at greenhouse gas emmissions, energy accounts for about 60% of the total. This puts a greater emphasis on the importance of developing low-carbon solutions in this industry for Ireland. Here at Activ8 Solar Energies, we’re obviously already providing this in terms of solar thermal and also solar PV, but we’ll continue to look at developing technologies and how we can help Irish homes make improvements in energy efficiency.


Over 9% of Ireland’s energy use came from renewable energy souces, which is great. But we’re still quite a bit off our 16% target which needs to be reached by 2020. Looking at the 9% figure however, this has resulted in almost 4 million tonnes of CO2 being avoided as well a cut-down in over €400m of energy imports.

When it comes to electricity alone, over a quarter of our electricity needs were provided through renewable energy including wind, hydro, landfill gas and bioenergy – with our solar electricity levels at a very low level in comparison to countries with similar climates and circumstances to us. There is optimism that this will grow significantly in the next couple of years. In addition, renewables contributed 5.7% to energy use in transport and 6.5% in the heating sector.

On the SEAI website, Jim Gannon, SEAI Chief Executive said:
“The publication of these energy figures is a timely and pertinent analysis of Ireland’s energy usage following the conclusion of COP22 in Marrakech last week and Ireland’s ratification of the Paris Agreement earlier in November. We are seeing good progress on renewable energy and energy efficiency, however, this needs to be further accelerated to keep pace with higher economic activity and demand for energy. The Government is already responding to this challenge with significant increased funding committed to energy efficiency and renewable heat in Budget 2017. This allows us to build on the progress to date and continue to decarbonise our energy system which will reduce costs, improve energy security and reduce environmental impact.”
Jim Gannon continued: “In 2015 the average household emitted 5.5 tonnes of CO2of which 61% came from direct fuel use in the home and the remainder from electricity use. The transition to a sustainable, low-carbon energy system requires the participation of citizens and communities in both decision-making and action. It is vital that we have an informed debate about the choices for Ireland as we move to a low-carbon economy. SEAI is committed to the provision of timely, robust and transparent data to ensure that policy development, decision-making and our energy transition is based on high quality data and evidence.”

The Future of Green Energy in The Emerald Isle

Renewed doubt has been cast over Ireland’s ability to meet sustainable EU greenhouse gas targets for 2020 with emissions across the transport and agriculture sectors set to increase over coming years.


With emissions attributed to the transport and agriculture sectors set to increase over the coming years, our ability as a nation to meet the specified EU greenhouse gas targets for 2020 has been brought into question once again by the Environmental Protection Agency.


Their latest report outlines how full implementation of our current energy efficiency and renewable fuel energy policies will still see Ireland fall short of our targets in 2020, which could result in large fines for non-compliance to what is essentially a commitment to a Europe-wide renewable energy initiative.


These targets outlined our responsibility to reduce emissions from sectors such as transport, agriculture, residential and waste by 20% from 2005 levels as part of the non-Emissions Trading Scheme (non-ETS), with the EPA now expecting our reduction to fall between the 6-11% range, well below 20%.


When we look at these sectors individually, there have been innovations on a larger scale that can help reduce emissions in this regard, with electric cars in transport, recycling programmes concerning waste emission reduction and renewable energy production in the residential sector, of which the widescale adoption of solar energy solutions such as our very own solar panels plays a significant role.


However, for the wider population, our agricultural production is something that the people of Ireland cannot realistically effect or change within the realm of their own homes. We can offset the increase of emissions in this industry by reducing them elsewhere and this may be a viable short term strategy for a new government.


Either way, it’s our overall, aggregated efforts that we feel the government can concentrate on in this manner. Our national GDP may be effected if we were to cut down on our herd size and the government is arguing that we can’t afford to cut production within one of our nation’s most valuable industries.


What are your thoughts about the balance discussed above? Do you think it’s a good idea to consider taking on board the points of EPA Director General, Laura Burke, when she referred to how “we must break our dependence on fossil energy infrastructures”?


These infrastructures run right to our doorsteps, where we depend on fossil fuels for central heating purposes, to heat our homes, heat our water, power our appliances and drive our cars; we’re concerned not only about the cost of our energy, but on the impact it’s having on the environment, and in turn, our future generations’ wellbeing.


If the Irish government is serious about finding a solution to break our dependence on fossil fuels, it is important that it helps strengthen the appetite for such change amongst the population by further supporting alternative heating solutions, renewable energy production and our overall green energy efforts.


Incentives in this regard such as the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme, Better Energy Homes are working really well at the moment, giving homeowners the chance to avail of grant for solar panels amongst other opportunities in the renewable energy sector.


Previous schemes such as the Greener Home Scheme have heralded extremely positive change in homes all around Ireland and only add weight to the argument that government supported schemes can help Ireland offset its overall emissions through residential support. Instead of a help-me-help-you scenario, the power of renewable energy in the residential sector truly becomes a help-us-help-us scenario, one which we can all benefit from, to the detriment of no stakeholders.


Green energy in Ireland is more than just an unattainable dream, it is fast becoming a reality and those who embrace it are reaping the rewards, both financially and ethically; it’s time we started pushing for an evolution towards a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly Ireland and we’re excited by the prospect of solar energy play a prominent role in driving this narrative for many bright years to come.

Ireland's Renewables Cut Carbon Emissions to record low in 2014

SEAI Release 2014 Data on Carbon Emissions

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) recently released new data revealing the extent to which the production of renewable energy in Ireland has helped cut the carbon content of electricity production. The exact figure revealed amounts to a total of 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided in 2014 as a direct result of the embracing of renewable and sustainable electricity.


Ireland's Renewable Growth

The figures released show just how far Ireland has come in the last 25 years as far as the renewable energy sector is concerned. Here at Activ8 Solar Energies, we and all of our customers can be proud of our contribution to the changing face of Ireland's renewable energy landscape and culture of sustainable power. This change in how we consume our energy saw the carbon intensity of electricity generation fall to a record low of 457 grams of CO2 per kWh of electrical output, only half the level that was measured in 1990. When you consider the growth of the Irish economy since then and the increased need for electricity and energy on our island due to a growing population and new businesses setting up shop, these statistics becomes even more impressive when taken into context.

SEAI chief executive Brian Motherway feels that the results are an “extremely positive” step for the country of Ireland. Speaking about Ireland's reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and embracing of sustainably renewable energy solutions, he said:

“This comes ahead of an international climate change agreement at COP21 that will put the world on track to a low-emission, climate resilient and sustainable future,”

He continued:

“We can see how Ireland is moving to a low-carbon economy, with clean and renewable energy increasingly used to provide electricity in our homes and businesses.”

On the back of the new data, the SEAI says that renewables are now one of the single biggest contributors to carbon dioxide emission reductions in Ireland.


Renewables & The Irish Economy

The SEAI has also revealed that the growth in renewables resulted in a substantial €250 million saving on fossil fuel imports in 2014, keeping more money in Ireland and furthering our nation's own economical output as a result.

So, as we already knew, it pays to go green, both as a homeowner and as a country.