Ireland needs to do more to meet its 2030 climate and renewable energy targets, despite progress made towards this target in the electricity sector, according to latest International Energy Agency (IEA) energy policy review released Monday.
According to the review, the power sector is leading the successful advance in the transformation of Ireland's energy sector.
"In 2017, about a quarter of the country’s total power generation came from wind power, the third highest share among all 30 IEA member countries," the report showed.
The Irish electricity system can already accommodate up to 65% of variable wind and solar generation, without risking security of supply. This is one of the highest shares globally, and a testimony to the country’s innovation and research capacity, the report said.
However, the agency cautioned that Ireland’s overall energy system remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels. With energy consumption projected to rise with population growth, they recommended that Ireland meet its future energy needs through low-carbon and energy efficient solutions in order to keep carbon emissions in check.
"Ireland is not on course to meet its emissions reduction and renewable energy targets for 2020, which means that reaching its 2030 targets is also in question," the IEA warned.
In particular, decarbonizing heating in buildings is a challenge for Ireland because of a highly dispersed population living in single-family dwellings, which, compared to other IEA countries, still feature a high share of individual oil-heating systems.
The IEA advised that as Ireland has already achieved significant reductions in energy intensity, attention should now shift to switching from fossil fuels towards more renewable energy sources in heat production.
- Low carbon fuel case
Since January 2019, all new buildings must install renewable energy systems to ensure that the expansion of the building stock does not lock-in carbon fuel consumption, the IEA recommended.
"Decarbonizing heat in the existing building stock is more challenging; especially in the rental sector. In its report, the IEA recommends a two pronged strategy: complementing attractive financial incentives for landlords along with the introduction of minimum energy efficiency standards where needed," it said.
Ireland is one of the few countries that tax all carbon fuels, an effective instrument for reducing demand and enhancing energy efficiency. However, the carbon tax rate has not changed since 2014 and, with rising living standards, its impact on customer behavior is weakening.
The IEA encourages the Irish government to introduce an automatic upward adjustment of the tax when pre-set emission targets are not met.
By Gulsen Cagatay