How Ireland is leading the way to a clean energy future

Ireland is leading the way to a clean energy future by embracing clean electricity, electric cars, smart networks, heat pumps and emerging technologies. In a way that was never possible before, Irish consumers are taking control of their own energy supply as homes and business transform into mini power stations.

Swiftly and responsibly, we’re harnessing the power of solar, wind, wave and storage and using smart technology to meet our 2030 and 2050 renewable pledges. You may not realise it yet, but these small and fundamental changes are the beginning of our energy revolution.

The consumer becomes the “prosumer”

Already, we’re adopting new ways to generate and consume energy, including the way we drive our cars and heat our homes. The power of supply is now in our hands.

In the home, we can harness the power of the sun with the introduction of solar panels to provide electricity and to heat our water. Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels are fast becoming a common sight on Irish rooftops, providing clean energy from the sun. Well-installed systems can produce up to 60pc of hot water demand per household over 12 months or 50pc of a household’s annual electricity.

Consumers are now becoming “prosumers,” which means they’re simultaneously consuming and producing a product. In this case, that product is energy. By producing our own energy, we’re also saving money on our utilities.

A typical three-bed, semi-detached house would save approximately €220 per year on electricity bills by investing €1,800 on a solar panel system. Heat pump technology, which is more than 30pc cheaper to run than a gas or oil boiler, is another energy-efficient way that Irish homeowners are adapting to heat their homes.

Heat pumps are powered by electricity and work by extracting heat from the air or ground outside the house and transfer it indoors at warmer temperature. Homes have to be well insulated and relatively airtight for heat pumps to work effectively.

Roughly 25pc of all heat loss in a home occurs through uninsulated walls and gaps

10pc of heat loss occurs through the floor

Heat Pumps: What are their benefits and how do they work?

Heat Pumps: What are their benefits and how do they work?

At least 37pc of all new homes built in 2017 featured heat pumps

It’s estimated that heat pumps will provide up to 60pc of heating for households by 2050

Electric Vehicles

The switch to electric vehicles is underway. According to a recent Ipsos Mori study, one in seven survey respondents said they are likely or very likely to buy an EV within the next five years, rising to one in five in April of this year.

It’s estimated there are around 5,500 electric cars on the roads in Ireland today, but the Government plans to increase this to 20,000 vehicles by 2020. We already have one of Europe's most comprehensive public charging network, with more than 1,100 standard and fast charge points installed nationally by ESB.

To further facilitate the move towards electric vehicles, the SEAI has introduced a grant up to the value of €600 towards the purchase and installation of a home charger unit for electric vehicle buyers. This can charge your car for as little as €2 overnight.

Smarter homes

As the power of supply moves into the consumers’ control, we can make smart choices about the technology we use in the home. It’s estimated that almost 40pc of new homes currently being built in Ireland will have elements of smart home technology included in their plans.

This can range from smart plugs, door and window sensors to motion detectors and thermostat integration. ESB and Vodafone have joined forces as SIRO to provide fibre to the home which will enable all Irish homes to become smart homes, with smart appliances connected to the internet.

These technologies can help us make better choices about how much energy we consume and allow us to better manage the cost of our utilities. The introduction of smart meters in the coming years will place the customer in even more control of their energy usage.

With time-of-use tariffs, consumers will be able to shift their energy usage patterns to times of day when electricity could be cheaper.

By 2020, both onshore and offshore wind is expected to contribute between 37pc and 40pc of our renewable electricity.

By 2030, it’s estimated that 13pc of the world will be powered by solar energy.

Power to the future

As well as solar energy, Ireland is adapting to a variety of renewable energies. By 2030, clean energy is expected to become the largest source in global electricity production — and wind generation is forecast to lead the way to meet the surging demand for renewables. And when it comes to wind power, Ireland is a global pioneer.

Wind energy now supplies over 20pc of Ireland’s total annual electricity demand and at any one time, over 50pc of electricity comes from wind. 2017 was a record-breaking year for installing wind energy capacity in Ireland and we have one of the highest levels of installed wind capacity relative to our wind consumption. By 2020, wind is expected to contribute between 37pc and 40pc of our renewable electricity.

As an island, we’re also taking advantage of wave energy. Globally this form of technology is still in its early stages but Ireland is quickly setting the standard by introducing Ocean Energy Project: ESB Westwave. It’s one of the first wave energy demo trials in the world and will take place in Killard, Co Clare. The aim is for Ireland’s ocean energy resources to supply 20pc of our electricity needs.

Biomass-powered stations are also being introduced as a zero-carbon solution to provide a cleaner back-up system for renewable sources of electricity in Ireland. Power stations in the midlands of the country are moving away from using peat and towards being fully biomass-powered stations.

You’re already witnessing the first steps of the revolution as Ireland ushers in a clean energy future.