June 2nd 2016
By Mark Kane
Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) yesterday released a provisional report stating that both Ireland’s energy usage increased by 5% and CO2 emissions increased by 5.2% in 2015. This was mixed results in terms of Ireland’s transition to a low energy carbon economy. The only positive that can be taken from this is that energy usage did not match the economic growth in 2015 which was higher at 8%. However, these figures do show that increased energy usage and the economy are somewhat growing in tandem.
In the same timeframe Ireland’s use of renewables for power, heat and transport increased by 13%. The battle between renewable and non-renewable energy production was particularly evident in the power generation market. Wind generated power increased by 28% now accounting for one fifth of electricity in 2015. This was over shadowed by increased usage of coal and peat (19.6%) in non-renewable electricity generation. This increased usage of coal and peat at the expense of reduced gas generation caused an increase in overall emissions intensity of 2.3% to 468 g CO2/kWh in 2015. This offset meant Ireland made a neutral effect on emissions intensity in 2015.
Ireland progress to a low carbon economy stalled in 2015
Dr Eimear Cotter, SEAI Head of Low Carbon Technologies said "These figures show the complexity of our energy system and the interplay of economic growth, renewable energy deployment and fossil fuel prices. Progress made in renewable energy deployment could be easily undone if we fail to decouple energy use from economic growth and accelerate the move away from fossil fuels, in particular high emissions-intensive fuels such as coal and peat. We need continued progress in energy efficiency in our homes and businesses and an increase in the use of renewables across all technologies in our energy system".
These figures show that as our economy grows both consumers & businesses still rely on non-renewable fuels to operate which means higher CO2 emissions resulting in EU penalties being handed to companies and government. It clearly shows that organizations are still slow to react to the environmental damage they cause and more importantly how they deal with it.
Even with gas usages decreasing our energy needs were provided by coal and peat instead of wind or solar power. This approach needs to change and time is running out for companies. By 2020 Ireland needs to increase energy efficiency by 20% otherwise Ireland will face EU fines which will be felt by companies across Ireland.
A recent example would be Aviva Stadium saved 4500 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere in the first year of running an ISO 50001 system. They also pocketed a cool €1m in energy savings. By investing in a framework like ISO 50001 to tackle your organizations energy output and becoming more energy efficient not only makes you safe from EU fines and regulations it will also lower costs resulting in a return in investment plus so much more.