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Wednesday 19 December 2018

Taoiseach's staff failing in bid to cut energy use

Department among more than 90 not on track to meet efficiency target

Government Buildings at Merrion Street Upper, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)
Government Buildings at Merrion Street Upper, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

The Department of the Taoiseach is among more than 90 public bodies and government departments not on track to meet a 2020 energy efficiency target.

A report from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) says savings of €191m were generated last year as public bodies reduced energy consumption, avoiding 667,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, but that some agencies are lagging behind.

The Government wants public bodies to reduce overall energy consumption by 33pc by 2020, with savings of 24pc already achieved. The State incurs a €608m annual energy bill, and cost savings since the programme began five years ago total just over €1bn.

But challenges remain. Of the 16 government departments which report, five are not on track - including the departments of the Taoiseach, Transport, Health, Finance and Agriculture.

The highest achiever is Public Expenditure and Reform, which is 76pc more efficient. Finance is worst, just 11pc more efficient, and Leo Varadkar's department is at 14.2pc.

Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton, whose department has met the 2020 target, said more challenging targets would be introduced post 2020, and that some areas needed to improve their performance.

"While some bodies are doing very well, the range of performance varies across public bodies," he said. "Of the 34 bodies who use more than 50GWh per year, 11 have achieved savings of over 30pc, but some have not even achieved 10pc.

"Further significant progress could be made if health, some areas of education and commercial State bodies improved performance and reached their annual targets.

"It's crucial all departments and bodies engage pro-actively in this process. We need to set a new target that is more ambitious. We need to create a stronger mandate in all our public bodies to step up their focus on climate action."

Overall, the report finds that of the 34 large energy users, six have met the target ahead of schedule, with the Dublin Airport Authority topping the list at 44.1pc. Bus Éireann has achieved only a 1.7pc efficiency rate. Overall, 15 are on track to meet their 2020 target, but 16 are not.

For the 121 public bodies which use between 5GWh and 50GWh of energy, 30 have met the target and another 28 are on track. Eleven of these agencies are using more energy than their baseline.

For 165 State agencies using less than 5GWh of power, 75 are on track to meet the target, but 19 are using more energy. The Inspector of Prisons is the least efficient, with a 40pc rise in energy consumption.

The biggest energy users are commercial State bodies, which account for 31pc of total energy consumption and are 23.3pc more efficient. They are followed by local authorities (23pc), which are 28pc more efficient, and health, which consumes 18pc of energy but is 22.2pc more efficient.

"Significant challenges" lie ahead, the report adds.

Irish Independent

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