Sunday 23 July 2017

Emissions up as renewables struggle to keep pace with economic growth

Gas terminal under construction
Gas terminal under construction
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

ALMOST 60pc of natural gas used to generate power last year came from indigenous sources, including the Corrib field in Mayo, a huge increase from 3pc in 2015.

But the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has warned that energy use across the economy continues to rise, and that more work is needed to decouple economic growth from emissions which cause dangerous climate change.

A 'low' wind year impacted on production of renewable energy, coupled with a shortfall in hydro, and while there was less coal, peat and oil used to generate power, the carbon intensity of electricity - or the amount of emissions produced per kilowatt hour - rose.

"As economic activity grows you always get some kind of increase in energy consumption," SEAI chief executive Jim Gannon said.

"There has been some decoupling, but not enough. It remains a concern that as our recovery continues we haven't seen a stronger decoupling of energy demand from economic growth."

The 2016 Provisional Energy Balance shows that energy consumption rose by 3.1pc last year, as the economy grew by some 5.2pc.

There was a "dramatic increase" in the carbon intensity of electricity generation, from 470 gCO2/kWh to 492 gCO2/kWh. This is mostly due to an increase in natural gas used in electricity generation to meet higher domestic demand, a low wind year by comparison to the previous three-year average (down 6pc), coupled with Ireland becoming a net exporter of electricity for the first time.

However, the coming on stream of the Corrib Gas field meant our dependency on imports fell from 88pc to 70pc.

As a result, 58pc of natural gas use in Ireland in 2016 came from indigenous sources compared with 3pc in 2015.

There was a fall in the contributions of renewables, with hydro and wind down. Use of coal, peat and oil in energy generation also fell.

Irish Independent

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