How Ireland’s electricity sector can still meet 2030 climate targets

5 Jul 2022

Image: © vencav/

Wind Energy Ireland’s latest report urges the Government to invest in the electricity grid and accelerate onshore wind and solar power generation.

A new report has said it is “just about possible” for Ireland to meet its 2030 climate targets if there is a “complete transformation” of the planning system and grid policies.

Published by Wind Energy Ireland today (5 July) and produced jointly by specialist energy consultants Baringa and TNEI, the report analyses the electricity system’s potential carbon budget.

It shows how power sector emissions could be kept to 66m tonnes – of which 6m are from constraints on the transmission system alone – between 2021 and 2030. But this is only if existing plans for Ireland’s energy system are improved and accelerated.

Wind Energy Ireland said this is the best carbon budget the electricity sector can possibly deliver unless the Government invests in and completes extensive new grid infrastructure by 2030.

It also said that coal and peat-based electricity need to be halted sooner and large volumes of offshore wind need to be connected before 2028.

“Hitting our 2030 targets, cutting our carbon emissions by 51pc, is still just about possible but we are not moving fast enough,” said Wind Energy Ireland CEO Noel Cunniffe.

“Our electricity grid is not fit for purpose. It was designed for a 20th century fossil-fuel based economy.”

Climate emergency

Wind is becoming a growing source of renewable electricity in Ireland and provided a record 32pc of electricity in April. But the representative group for the Irish wind energy industry says more needs to be done to tap into the potential of this resource.

“Some progress has been made but our existing strategies, plans and targets are simply inadequate and need to be stepped up,” Cunniffe said. He added that the “full resources of the State” must be brought to bear if the electricity sector is to deliver the savings projected.

“Just over three years ago the Oireachtas voted unanimously to declare that Ireland was in the middle of a climate and biodiversity emergency. It is time to start acting like it.”

Key priorities highlighted by the report include accelerating the delivery of onshore wind and solar power and replacing the fossil fuel-based backup with zero-carbon technologies such as battery storage, new interconnectors and demand-response technologies that lower electricity demand at times of tight supply.

“It has never been more urgent to act,” said Cunniffe. “Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine means spiralling gas and electricity prices across the continent. This creates real hardship for families who will struggle to pay bills that, ultimately, end up funding Russia’s war.”

Today, Irish electricity provider Energia announced that it is committing to reduce the carbon intensity of its electricity generation by 50pc by 2030. It also aims to increase onshore renewable electricity generation threefold by 2030, and complete two offshore wind projects.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic