Tuesday 22 October 2019

Power play: Ireland left facing huge bill for failing to hit EU targets on renewables


Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Almost half of EU member states have already hit 2020 climate change targets, while Ireland lags behind on renewable energy.

With the State expected to fall well short of meeting the goal of reducing 2005 output levels by 20pc by 2020, Ireland faces the prospect of a non-compliance bill running to hundreds of millions of euro.

In an attempt to meet its 2030 emissions targets, the Government is set to increase carbon tax rates in the coming years.

First introduced here in 2010, the carbon tax applies to liquid petroleum gas, fuel oil, natural gas, solid fuels, kerosene, and diesel oil.

Many of our European counterparts are faring better, with almost half of the European Union's 28 member states having already hit, or close to hitting, their 2020 renewable energy targets, according to the European statistics agency Eurostat.

Those that are already top of the class when it comes to meeting renewable energy targets include Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Italy, and Sweden.

The Nordics are well-represented among the strongest performers; Sweden came top with 54.5pc of its energy coming from renewable sources.

This performance was a long way ahead of the second-placed country, Finland, with 41pc - followed by Latvia with 39pc and Denmark with just over a third of its energy coming from renewables.

Despite its strong performance, Latvia is yet to hit its target but is only around 1pc away.

However, at the other end of the scale, the Netherlands is the furthest away from its goal - 7.4 percentage points (pp) away from its 2020 objective.

France, follows the Netherlands, 6.7 percentage points from its goal, followed by Ireland (5.3 pp) and the UK (4.8 pp).

The World Economic Forum has warned that, while the share of renewables being used to meet EU energy needs had doubled since 2005, the rate of adoption is slowing down.

If the slowdown in trend continues it could cause several member states, and possibly the whole EU, to miss its 2030 target of at least 32pc renewable contribution to energy consumption.

Last year, global investment in renewables such as wind and solar energy, along with energy tech such as smart meters, topped $332bn (€292bn), according to the WEF.

However, this represented an 8pc decrease on the previous year.

The biggest player in the clean energy sector last year was China, which invested around $100bn - a 32pc drop on the 2017 figure.

There was also a 53pc decline in China's ongoing investment in solar power, prompted by the withdrawal of generous subsidy rates.

That said, falling costs of renewable infrastructure may have been an influence on the level of spending, with cost-per-unit falling, while the number of installations has risen. (Additional reporting PA)

Irish Independent

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