Cheap coal push at power station sparks surge in emissions
The ESB is spewing out vast amounts of pollution by using cheap coal to generate power, a new report warns.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) said energy consumption rose by almost 5pc last year, the first "significant" increase since 2010, which fuelled a 6pc hike in emissions that cause climate change.
This is in part because the ESB ramped up use of coal by 20pc to generate cheaper energy from its Moneypoint power station, while use of oil also increased slightly, albeit from a low base. Transport energy use rose by almost 6pc last year, with air travel up 13pc.
Energy use in industry rose 4.8pc, and by 5.2pc in the residential sector.
The Energy in Ireland report also warns that the country is just over halfway toward meeting its 2020 renewable energy targets, and called for a greater level of public debate around the roll-out of renewables.
"We are seeing good progress on renewable energy and energy efficiency. However, this needs to be further accelerated to keep pace with higher economic activity and demand for energy," SEAI chief executive Jim Gannon said.
Energy accounts for 60pc of Ireland's total greenhouse gas emissions, and some 9pc of energy is produced by renewables including wind, solar, biomass and hydro. The amount generated by renewables must be raised to 16pc by 2020.
The ESB said national grid operator EirGrid dispatched the cheapest available electricity, and Moneypoint power station played a "key role" in reducing electricity costs.
It added that it was "actively studying options" to reduce the carbon intensity of electricity generated at the plant, and it had invested €400m to comply with national and EU targets.