Ireland still some way off meeting renewable target for 2020
Published 25/05/2016 | 02:30
Ireland is still some way off reaching renewable energy targets for 2020 but is ahead of the EU average for the proportion of electricity generated from sustainable sources.
Currently 28.4pc of Ireland's electricity comes from renewable sources, but that number needs to reach 40pc in order to meet targets set out by the European Commission.
Since the 2009 publication of the Renewable Energy Directive, nations have been moving toward a shared goal to have 20pc of all energy consumption come from renewable energy sources by 2020.
The EU is making some progress in achieveing that target after 22.5pc of all electricity produced came from sustainable energy such as solar, hydro, and wind last year.
In 2015, Ireland was among the top five countries for new electricity creation.
Latvia (13.8pc), Lithuania (12.8pc), Netherlands (6.5pc), Ireland (6pc) and Sweden (5.6pc) recorded the largest increases in energy production last year.
However, many fear that Ireland is at risk of missing its 2020 targets.
Renewable energy generation in Ireland has increased significantly over the last number of years and the production of wind energy has increased to more than ten times what it was in the 1990s.
The National Offshore Association of Ireland (NOW Ireland) has criticised the Government, accusing it of not encouraging offshore wind generation and instead investing in other technologies.
NOW believes the targets set for 2020 are ambitious but achievable.
"All other EU countries, many with less renewable energy resources than Ireland, have also implemented plans to get them to their 2020 targets.
"Many of these plans allow for the import of green energy from countries which have surplus renewable energy.
"This provides a real opportunity for Ireland," the association said about Ireland's energy targets.
Despite NOW's criticism, just under a quarter of Irish energy still comes from wind power with hydro energy also contributing 4pc to the country's overall generation.
EU-wide, just under half of all electricity comes from conventional thermal energy with a further 26pc coming through nuclear energy.
Around 12pc comes from hydro energy with 10pc from wind and another 4pc from other sources. While Ireland's renewable contribution is still above the EU average, it pales in comparison to the likes of Austria, which sources 70.9pc of its electricity production from renewable technologies.
Last month Environmental Protection Agency director general Laura Burke said Ireland must balance its focus on becoming more sustainable and reducing emissions as the economy continues to recover.
"EPA projections indicate that we face considerable challenges to become a low carbon economy.
"Ireland must follow a pathway to de-carbonising energy, transport and heating.
"We must break our dependence on fossil energy infrastructures," she said.
"In addition the agriculture, forestry and land use sectors should achieve effective greenhouse gas emissions neutrality by 2050," Ms Burke said.
Meanwhile, the latest figures from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland found that buildings are second only to transport in terms of energy use.