Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) will have to increase 100-fold if Ireland is to meet EU targets to reduce energy consumption and emissions.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) says that 125 wind turbines must be erected every year, 75,000 homes retrofitted and 50,000 EVs put on the road within five years to avoid hefty fines from the EU for failing to meet energy efficiency targets.
These fines could range from €65m to €130m for every percentage shortfall on our binding targets, the 'Ireland's Energy Targets: Progress, Ambition and Impacts' report says.
It adds that "thousands" of jobs would be created, and emissions dramatically reduced by 15 million tonnes a year, if action is taken. Ireland has committed to reducing energy demand by 20pc by 2020, and we are around half-way towards meeting this target.
In addition, some 16pc of all energy must be from renewable sources, with targets for transport (10pc from renewables), heat (12pc) and electricity (40pc).
"Meeting these targets will create economic, enterprise and environmental benefits for Ireland," the report says. "Furthermore, meeting 2020 renewable energy and energy efficiency targets could put Ireland on a low-carbon pathway and trajectory in terms of meeting future targets in 2030 and 2050."
But it says that an "accelerated effort" is required. These actions include:
There has been a low take-up of EVs due to their relatively high cost, despite a grant of €5,000 towards each vehicle. The SEAI says that an EV, travelling 16,000km per year, will be €797 cheaper than running a diesel equivalent, or 80pc cheaper, and €1,264 per year cheaper than petrol.
If all necessary measures are implemented, fossil fuel imports would reduce by €750m per year, and 15 million tonnes of emissions avoided.
Energy efficiency measures to date are saving €700m a year.