SEAI's annual publication presents the latest official statistics on energy use in Ireland. View our insights and download the full 2021 report.

Latest energy trends in Ireland

Our annual publication looks at trends in national energy use and at the underlying driving forces, such as the economy and weather, and more recently the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also examines greenhouse gas emissions from energy use, energy security, cost competitiveness, and our progress towards EU renewable energy targets.

The data provided in this report is a key strand in the evidence base that SEAI provides to support the transition to a carbon neutral society.

  • -8.7%

    Reduction in overall energy use in 2020
  • -11.4%

    Reduction in energy-related CO₂ emissions in 2020
  • -26.0%

    Reduction in transport energy use in 2020

The public health measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic had far reaching impacts on all aspects of society during 2020, including on our energy use and resulting CO2 emissions. Total energy use and energy related CO2 emissions experienced the largest reduction since 2009, with most of the reduction happening in transport. However early data for 2021 shows that energy use and related CO2 emissions in most transport sectors had already rebounded back to pre-COVID-19 levels by the middle of 2021.

 

It is notable that the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from energy use seen in 2020 is less than the amount that will need to be achieved on average every year from 2021 to 2030 to meet our long-term decarbonisation goals. Now more than ever, it is essential that we accelerate the elimination of fossil fuels with energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and increase sustainable energy practices across all sectors.
William Walsh, SEAI CEO

Ireland's energy balance 2020

Oil,Total Primary Energy,6010
Nat. Gas,Total Primary Energy,4564
Coal,Total Primary Energy,448
Peat,Total Primary Energy,418
Non-Renewable Wastes,Total Primary Energy,147
Wind,Total Primary Energy,993
Hydro,Total Primary Energy,80
Biomass & Other Renewables,Total Primary Energy,704
Total Primary Energy,Total Final Energy,11246
Total Primary Energy,Electricity Transformation & Distribution Losses,2023
Total Primary Energy,Other Losses,164
Total Primary Energy,Net Electricity Exports,13
Total Final Energy,Agriculture & Fisheries,241
Total Final Energy,Commercial/Public,1830
Total Final Energy,Industry,2171
Total Final Energy,Residential,3128
Total Final Energy,Transport,3875
Source: SEAI

Findings from our key energy sectors

Transport

  • There were significant restrictions on personal mobility during 2020 which had direct effects on transport energy use, especially on international aviation and private cars.
  • Total transport energy use was down by over a quarter (-26%).
  • The largest reduction in transport energy use was the two-thirds drop in jet kerosene use for aviation (64.3%).
  • Consumption of road diesel and petrol were down 13.6% and 25.9%, respectively.

Heat

  • Energy used for heat increased by 3.2% in 2020.
  • This was mostly due to an 7.4% increase in oil use for heat. In contrast gas use for heat declined by 0.6%.
  • CO2 emissions from heating increased by 2.6% or 0.4 million tonnes.
  • CO2 emissions from residential heating increased by 9.1% or 0.6 million tonnes and the sector was responsible for 53% of CO2 emissions from heating.

Electricity

  • Peat used for electricity generation fell by 51%.
  • 42% of all electricity generated in 2020 came from renewable sources.
  • 86% of all renewable electricity came from wind, with the remaining 14% evenly split across hydroelectricity and bioenergy sources.
  • Ireland had a total installed wind capacity of 4.3 GW at the end of 2020 - an increase of 180 MW on 2019.
  • There has been a strong reduction in the CO2 intensity of electricity generation, especially after 2016, with intensity falling below 300 gCO2/kWh for the first time in 2020. It is now less than half of its 2005 value.

Progress towards renewable energy targets

 2020 Final2020 Target
Overall renewable energy share 13.516
Renewable transport (RES-T)10.210
Renewable electricity (RES-E)39.140
Renewable heat (RES-H)6.312
Source: SEAI

2020 was a big year for Ireland in assessing whether it achieved EU renewable energy targets. We had some success, but ultimately, we failed to meet our overall target.

The overall share of renewable energy was 13.5%, well short of the 16% target. The lack of overall progress was mostly down to our poor performance in renewable energy for heating.

Despite this, renewable energy still avoided 6.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2020, more than is emitted from all cars on our roads combined.

Renewable Transport

We achieved our mandatory EU target of 10% renewable energy in transport, reaching 10.2% in 2020, almost entirely through the blending of sustainable biofuels in petrol and diesel.

Renewable Electricity

Ireland had no mandatory target for renewable electricity (RES-E) for 2020, but renewable electricity formed the backbone of Ireland’s strategy to achieve the overall 16% renewable energy target for 2020, and we set an ambitious national target of 40%. We fell just short of this target, achieving 39.1% RES-E in 2020. Despite this electricity generation has been the most successful of the three modes for the development of energy from renewable sources. Renewable energy sources are now the second largest source of electricity after natural gas.

Renewable Heat

There was no mandatory target for renewable heat (RES-H), but Ireland set a national target of 12% RES-H by 2020 to help deliver the overall mandatory target of 16% renewable energy. We fell well short of achieving this target, reaching just 6.3% RES-H in 2020.

Energy in Ireland Report

The full report presents the latest national data and trends on energy efficiency and renewable energy in Ireland. It also looks at how these energy trends relate to Government and EU renewable energy targets.

Download the report

Your feedback

We welcome your feedback and comments on this report. Please send your email to epssu@seai.ie.