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.

Renewables

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.”


What Donald Trump Win Means for Climate Change in Ireland

The Climate Change Fallout of a Trump Presidency

With our friends across the Atlantic Ocean flocking to the polls and electing Donald Trump, the planet and the environmental issues that face us both in the present and the future were not important enough for consideration when Americans were deciding which candidate they voted for. Not only is the election of Donald Trump a disaster for environmentally conscious people in America, it is a disaster for climate change globally. After the tentative but progressive COP 21 event in Paris and subsequent agreement, this is not what our planet needed. We needed forward thinking governments, with like-minded leaders to help move the planet forward with an environmentally friendly, sustainable approach to governing. For all of us in not just the solar industry, but beyond, this election result does not bode well.

Could Donald Trump have been any clearer when we called global warming "a Chinese hoax", before definitively stating that he wants to scrap all of the major regulations that US President Obama put in place to reduce carbon dioxide emissions for the USA. With a republican congress, he has the power and ability to pass bills to stop a lot of the progress made in the previous presidency. Anyway, why does this matter to us here in Ireland?

Firstly, we all share the same planet, the same atmosphere and the same melting ice caps. What happens in America affects us all. Not only that, if one of the most powerful western countries in the world scraps their climate change efforts, that doesn’t set a great example for smaller western nations like ourselves. If the USA takes Donald Trump's lead and decides to denounce climate change, you can be sure that R&D efforts will drop, clean energy research will drop and future progress in this regard will be slowed. Unfortunately, Donald Trump openly stated he was going to repeal all federal spending on all of these things, such as solar, wind, nuclear power and electric vehicles. With R&D dropping in America as well as future demand for such, it may see the end of the slowly lowering alternative energy prices around the world, including here in Ireland.
The underlying reality is that a Trump presidency will lead to more coal burning, pollution and more CO2 emissions.

Is all hope for clean energy, solar and Irish renewables lost?

No.

Solar Energy in Ireland Will Continue To Grow and It Won't Be Alone

The reality is, solar power, wind power and electric cars have been getting cheaper and cheaper over the past decade and although that has slowed, these renewable energy pillars have become very affordable here in Ireland, so the American federal government won’t be able to change this anytime soon, bad news on that front would be slow. In which case, you would hope the proliferation of all these technologies would outpace such federal resistance in America.

It is also possible, just like past obstacles, that opposition to a figure such as Trump will help galvanise the next generation of clean energy advocates here in Ireland and abroad. Where there is a will, there is a way and people fighting for and towards Irelands obligations in 2020 and beyond will continue to do so with an eye on the COP 21 agreement, rather than the actions of the 45th US President.

It is undeniable that the landscape has changed with one single leadership change, but the reality is, we must continue our renewable energy efforts here in Ireland and keep working with our own government in order to effect change here in Ireland. The support for solar and other clean energy technologies is continuing to grow. With politics changing to a popularity contest, the more popular climate change becomes in Ireland, the more it will seep into Leinster House.

The Irish solar market is in a very healthy state, can we say the same about external optimism for America today?

No.


New Name For Department Sees Climate Change Importance Grow in Government

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Denis Naughten said the department would be known as the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the transfer of functions from the previous Department of Environment, Community and Local Government was completed. Mr Naughten said the transfer of the environment function allowed the synergies between climate and sustainable energy policy to be fully realised.
“It brings a coherence across the various policy areas involved, and will ensure that Ireland addresses the challenges in ways that are technically feasible, cost-effective and fair in terms of Ireland’s contribution to the overall EU ambition.’’

Mr Naughten said the Government would continue to strive to protect Ireland’s energy supply, generation, security, affordability and sustainability, and to ensure Ireland complied with international energy and climate-change policies. The Minister was replying to Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, the very man that opened the Activ8 Solar Energies headquarters in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan all of 7 years ago. Eamon Ryan has said including “environment’’ in the title would allow Mr Naughten in his ministerial duties to “grab the power and grow the department, to strengthen and empower it within Government’’.

We tend to agree with Mr. Ryan to the extent that not only should the word “environment” be included in the title of the department, it should be intertwined throughout each department, rather than isolated on its own. However, this move will allow Minister Naughten to approach other departments in his ministerial position with a view to discussing the impact renewable energy may have on their day-to-day operations and where improvements can be made. This can only be seen as a positive step in relation to the growth of the solar power industry in Ireland. Although steps have already been realised in this regard, with state bodies including solar pv on new builds of all descriptions, from schools to council buildings, it is important that we keep pushing the potential of solar pv for electricity generation in Ireland given our generous annual solar yield and ability to produce substantial amounts of solar electricity from solar pv systems across the country, with the highest yields experienced in the sunny South East.

Although solar isn’t the only show in town, it is important to note the ministers hesitations in relation to wind turbines. The Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources said he accepted a significant number of people had objections to wind turbines, with a view to further consultation on the technology and infrastructure. "There is an issue in relation to wind turbines, there is absolutely no doubt about that," he said. "We also have the potential rollout of solar power as well, in relation to electricity generation," he added. The latter part of this statement bodes well for solar growth in Ireland.


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.


2015: The Warmest Year on Record - How Solar Can Help

It has emerged, in line with the yearly trends, that 2015 was the hottest year that the planet Earth as a whole has experienced since the creation of reliable records in 1880. As a company positioned in the renewable energy business, this brings up a number of questions, issues and general discussion points about how statistics like this effect what we at Activ8 Solar Energies do as a company.

First and foremost, our products help offset climate change, be it through the installation of domestic solar panels or commercial solar PV systems. Either way, we’re helping people generate their own electricity in a renewable, affordable and sustainable fashion.

Coming back to the emerging climate statistics of 2015, the Earth as a whole is getting warmer - that much we know is a fact. Ten of 2015’s 12 months set new all time temperature records. And the 21st Century in particular has been scorching: 15 of the 16 warmest years ever to be recorded have occurred since 2001. The evidence indicates that this warming is primarily created by our activity as a species - that is another uncomfortable fact. We do however, have the natural resources and technological know how available to us to replace our existing and armful practices of energy creation, therefore offsetting our use of fossil fuels and carbon emissions - this again is a fact.

Why opt for Solar Power Now?

Well the Earth is getting warmer and that in itself is a problem. Temperatures are increasing and you are in a  position where you can do something about it whilst generating your own energy and cutting down on the cost of your energy bills. Contrary to popular belief, solar panels do not need direct sunlight to generate energy - they work off both direct sunlight and diffused radiation, meaning it doesn’t need to be a cloudless day to see substantial solar energy production.

The idealistic solution to this global problem is already here. We have an opportunity to use one of the biggest natural resources of energy known to man, the sun, and bend it to our will. By generating renewable and sustainable energy this way, we are using the sun to offset our consumption of fossil fuels and reduce our own carbon emissions.

Now that we have discussed some of the more exemplary reasons as to why going solar is a great move for the environment around us, let us mention another, perhaps even more enticing reason to make the switch over to solar energy: finances.

The sun will continue to produce energy long after we are gone. With that in mind, we are never going to run out of sunlight so the price of it can never rise as the near infinite supply can never be outweighed by demand - simple economics! All you have to do to take advantage of this gigantic source of energy is put yourself in a position where you can harness it and installing solar panels is the way to do this.

An investment in solar is an investment in the future, your future.


Ireland's Commitment to Change at COP21 Summit Challenged

Could Ireland Have Committed to More Change at COP21 Paris?

On Monday of this week, as we got ready for another week of work in the world of renewable energy, our Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny, addressed many of the world's leading nations' leaders in Paris at the COP 21 global summit on climate change.

It was a moment in which Enda could have made all of us in the renewable energy industry in Ireland proud. That includes all of our customers and everyone making genuine efforts to source and use energy from renewable and sustainable means. It includes everyone who takes pride in simple things like recycling. It includes a lot of people in Ireland. But he failed to declare Ireland's strong intentions for climate change into the future.

Instead of standing and proclaiming Ireland's willingness to do everything possible so that Ireland would reach its renewable energy targets, he simply didn’t deliver. He cited Ireland's current targets for 2020 as being “unrealistic” and “unreachable”. Although he mainly referred to the difficulties facing the agricultural section in Ireland with regards to carbon emissions, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that incentives have worked in other industries.

You only have to look at the current solar energy grants scheme that has worked very well for our targets, our businesses and most of all, the Irish public who have been able to avail of renewable energy technologies in their home. Looking to agriculture, there is the opportunity to install medium-scale solar PV systems on farm buildings through the TAMS II scheme, but measures such as this should be more heavily supported if Ireland are to be seen as being serious about offsetting the emissions caused by our ever-increasing agricultural production.

The Irish Economy and Climate Change

Getting back to the topic at hand, Ireland is in a strong position currently thanks to our growing economy. Evidence of this was seen in the generous nature of the most recent budget. It would have been possible for the government to increase incentives and really push an agenda of change in relation to climate change and our 2020 targets, with a view to reaching our 2030 targets also.

Unfortunately, this didn’t happen and we, like many others, were left disappointed. But with this week's COP 21 global summit on climate change unfolding, we felt that it was the time for Enda Kenny and his party to show the Irish public its future plans in relation to climate change and a chance for them to showcase to the world how Ireland could once again be a leader of change as it has done in the past.

The only real commitment to come from Mr. Kenny was The €175 million promised over the next five years, which is no more than existing Irish Aid spending repeated into the future.

We, like many others, will continue to drive the renewable energy industry in Ireland and are hopeful that Mr. Kenny scraps the notions that our recession restricted us in this regard. Plenty of poorer nations than Ireland, such as India, have been admirably powering themselves forward through the heavy backing and support of solar power. In fact, Ireland are the 8th highest polluter amongst developed countries in the entire world and we are 4th in Europe [1].

It is time for change, climate change!

[1] "World carbon dioxide emissions data by country: China speeds ahead of the rest" - The Guardian.


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.