Ireland’s energy related emissions back to pre-pandemic levels, SEAI

Energy demand for transport rose by 8.3pc from 2020, with an increase in car use following the removal of pandemic restrictions, the SEAI found.

Following a brief pause during the pandemic in 2020, Ireland’s energy related emissions increased by 5.4pc in 2021.

That’s according to a report by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The report, published today (5 September) details Ireland’s energy use for 2021.

Ireland has committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 4.8pc per year from 2021 to 2025 under the first carbon budget.

However, the SEAI report reveals that energy related emissions are now back at the same level as 2019 after a temporary reduction due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

An increase in car use following the removal of Covid-19 restrictions is said to be a significant contributor to the increase in emissions for 2021. Energy demand for transport rose by 8.3pc from 2020.

Ireland’s renewable energy share remained unchanged since 2020, at 13.6pc. This is attributed to increased demand for energy and poor delivery of new renewable capacity. In addition, a low wind year in 2021 resulted in more people relying on coal and oil to heat their homes. This added to emissions levels.

Margie McCarthy, director of research and policy insights with SEAI, said that the data from the report showed that Ireland’s emissions were “trending in the complete opposite direction of where we need to be.”

She said that the fact Ireland has used a “disproportionate amount” of its carbon budget in 2021, will result “in future years being even more challenging.” She added that the early data from 2022 did not augur well for the reversal of this trend.

“We need to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy technologies to levels as yet unseen here in Ireland. Importantly, we also need to drastically increase sustainable energy practices to curtail demand across all sectors of the economy. Current energy security and costs are bringing this front of mind for homes and businesses across the country. Reducing our use of energy and making the transition to renewable energy technologies are essential in our collective response to this, and ultimately to deliver our national climate action goals,” said McCarthy.

Not all of the report was negative, however. Last year was the first ever year that Ireland’s indigenous production of renewables was higher than its indigenous production of natural gas.  Most (91.5pc) of the country’s renewable energy is indigenous.

There was also a significant rise in electric vehicles on Irish roads. More than 11,000 homes received Government grants for home energy upgrades, which contributed to a 4pc reduction of energy demand in that sector.

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