Ireland’s energy supply to be put under scrutiny as part of major review

15 Nov 2019

Image: © Aurelien/

The Government is setting in motion a review of Ireland’s energy supply to find how its target of 70pc renewables can be achieved.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton, TD, announced this morning (15 November) that his department has been given the green light to see how Ireland’s energy supply can be drastically overhauled.

“Decarbonising our energy supply is crucial,” Bruton said. “It will make a really significant impact on our emissions, especially as we electrify our car fleet and public transport systems. This review will ensure we are prepared to make the radical change that is needed.”

Under the Climate Action Plan released earlier this year, the Government aims to have 70pc of Ireland’s energy sourced from renewables by 2030. According to a report from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) in January, Ireland’s overall renewable supply was 10.6pc of our gross final consumption in 2017, with a 30.1pc share of renewable electricity.

This report, and others published since, have shown Ireland is expected to miss its 2020 renewable energy target and will also struggle to meet its 2030 target. Last month, the Government announced plans to phase out oil exploration off the Irish coast, and last week it was announced that ESB would close two peat power plants in the midlands.

Making up the difference

Bruton said that the additional phasing out of coal and peat from Ireland’s electricity production and replacing it with renewables such as wind and solar are key to meeting the 70pc target. The Government sees natural gas as a ‘transition fuel’ with there being no access in Ireland to nuclear energy, hydropower on a large scale or geothermal power.

The role of gas is expected to be part of this review, including how and from where it will be sourced to keep greenhouse gas emissions as low as possible. Also expected to be looked at is how various technologies could aid in decarbonisation, such as battery storage for renewable electricity, hydrogen fuel, and carbon capture and storage.

“As we phase out coal and peat and move towards generating 70pc of our electricity from renewable sources, we need to make sure we are prepared for when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining,” Bruton said in a statement. “We will look at the best mix which will maintain energy security, while ensuring we are meeting our climate commitments.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic