The National Energy Balance presents detailed information on how and where energy is used in Ireland for a given year.

SEAI is responsible for publishing Ireland’s Energy Balance, which provides a complete overview of Ireland’s energy supply by source, energy transformations, and the final energy demand by sector. Data from SEAI’s Energy Balance allows energy-mode and renewable energy shares to be calculated. The Energy Balance is also an important input into the greenhouse gas inventory maintained by Environmental Protection Agency, which is used to track Ireland’s progress against 2025 and 2030 carbon budgets.

SEAI works to continuously improve the statistical methodology and coverage of the Energy Balance, balancing the availability of new data sources with the need for long-term stability for cross-year comparisons. We welcome feedback to epssu@seai.ie.

Highlights of the 2021 Energy Balance

  • 5.4%

    Energy Related CO2 up
  • 8.3%

    Transport Demand up
  • 13.6%

    Renewable Energy Share

Although, Ireland has committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 4.8% per annum from 2021- 2025 under the first carbon budget, energy related emissions were instead up 5.4% in 2021. They are now back at the same level as 2019 after a temporary reduction due to COVID-related restrictions.

A rebound in car use after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions is a significant contributor to Ireland’s increased emissions. Energy demand for transport rose by 8.3% from its significant suppression in 2020. While this may be expected, it underlines the urgent requirement for change in the transport sector with a necessary shift to cycling, walking, public transport, and electric vehicles and eliminating unnecessary car journeys.

Increased energy demand, combined with modest delivery of new renewable capacity, and a low-wind year resulted in Ireland’s renewable energy share remaining unchanged since last year, at just 13.6%. The low wind year resulted in more use of coal and oil in electricity generation to meet requirements, further adding to emissions levels.

Downloading the 2021 Energy Balance

Download the Energy Balance Tables from 2021 -1990 and also our Bubble Plot Summary of totals in the 2021 Energy Balance

Energy Balance TablesEnergy Balance Summary

Energy-related CO2

  • 34.5 MtCO2

    Energy Related CO2 was
  • 87.1%

    Primary Supply from Fossil Fuels
  • 5.4%

    Energy Related CO2 up
  • Energy-related CO2 accounts for over half of all emissions in Ireland (34.5 MtCO2, including international aviation)
  • Total energy supply increased by 3.6% compared to 2020, and 87.1% of that energy supply is derived from fossil fuels
  • Legally binding carbon budgets commit Ireland to reducing our CO2 emissions by 4.8% per annum from 2021 to 2025. Energy emissions increased by 5.4% in 2021
  • 2021’s in-year increase can largely be attributed to the 8.3% rebound in transport energy demand after the easing of COVID restrictions, and the increased use of carbon intensive fuels in electricity generation.
  • Due to a low wind year for renewable generation, we used more coal and oil for electricity generation, which increased the carbon intensity of our electricity by 11.9%
  • Provisional data from the first 6-months of 2022 indicates that total oil demand is up by 18%, compared to the same period in 2021, with gas demand remaining relatively constant. The increase is driven mainly by rebounds in oil for road transport and international aviation. If this upward trend in oil demand continues in the second half of the year, then it may put upward pressure on our 2022 energy emissions.

Renewable Energy

  • 13.6%

    Renewable Energy Share
  • 50.9%

    Wind accounted for Renewable Energy
  • 15.4%

    Renewable Energy from Wind down
  • Ireland’s overall renewable energy share was 13.6% in 2021, unchanged from 2020. The lack of increased renewable share is due to increased energy demand after COVID, and only a modest deployment of new renewable energy capacity.
  • The total renewable energy supply in Ireland fell by 8.0% in 2021, mainly due to poor conditions for wind generation.
  • Renewable energy from wind generation was down by 15.4% due to low-wind conditions last year. While 2021 saw only a modest increase in wind capacity (0.8%), wind energy still accounted for 50.9% of all renewable energy.
  • Ireland’s renewable energy shares for electricity, transport, and heat are calculated using the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive methodologies:
  • Ireland’s 2021 renewable energy share for electricity was 37.9%, down from 39.0% in 2020, mainly due to low-wind conditions. We need to double our renewable energy share of electricity in the next eight-years, while simultaneously increasing overall electricity supply, to meet the 2030 target of 80% of electricity from renewable sources as set out in Ireland’s Climate Action Plan.
  • Despite adding more EVs in 2021 than ever before, our renewable energy share for transport reduced slightly from 10.3% in 2020 to 10.0% in 2021. This is because diesel-fuelled freight vehicles, and non-EV private cars including SUVs, drove up fossil fuel demand.
  • Ireland’s renewable energy share of heat was 6.8% in 2021, up half a percentage point on the previous year, which is a welcome increase, but still far short of our 2020 national target of 12%. As the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive is revised, and supplemented by REPowerEU, Ireland’s new binding renewable targets out to 2030 will soon become clear.
  • Provisional data from the first 6-months of 2022 indicates that electricity generated by wind is up by 11%, compared to the same period in 2021, while total electricity demand for the country increased by just 3% in the same period. If this upward trend in wind generation continues throughout the rest of 2022, then we will increase both our renewable energy share for electricity and our overall renewable share for 2022.

Energy in Transport

  • 34.0%

    Transport responsible for 34.0% of Energy Related CO2
  • 95.5%

    Transport energy from fossil fuels
  • 8.3%

    Transport Demand up
  • The transport sector emitted 12.0 MtCO2 in 2021 and accounted for 34.0% of Ireland’s total energy emissions. Transport remained the most carbon intensive demand sector, with 95.5% of transport energy demand coming from fossil fuels.
  • Rebounding from 2020 COVID-related travel restrictions, energy demand for transport increased by 8.3% in 2021, and was a significant driver of the overall increase in Ireland’s energy-related emission this year.
  • Private car use is by far the largest transport sub-sector, and accounts for 43.0% of all transport energy demand. Energy demand by private cars is 67% greater than the combined demand of both heavy goods and light goods commercial vehicles on Irish roads. These numbers highlight the urgent need to reduce the climate impact of private car use by increasing the number of journeys we make by foot, by bicycle, and on public transport, while simultaneously replacing petrol and diesel cars with EVs.
  • Backed by €68 million in SEAI administered grants for EVs and chargers, 2021 saw a threefold annual increase in the number of EVs added to Irish roads. However, significant further acceleration is needed to reach the target of 850,000 EVs by 2030 set out in Ireland’s climate action plan, which also calls for further electrification of bus and rail fleets, with 1,500 electric buses by 2030.
  • Provisional data from the first 6-months of 2022 indicates that demand for petrol is up by 27%, compared to the same period in 2021, and the demand for diesel is up by 15%, as consumption of both fossil fuels return to pre-COVID levels.

Residential Energy

  • 27.5%

    Residential Sector responsible for 27.5% of Energy Related CO2
  • 41.4%

    Oil accounts for Residential Energy Demand
  • 4.2%

    Residential demand down
  • The residential sector emitted 9.8 MtCO2 in 2021, which was 27.5% of Ireland’s total energy emissions
  • Oil remains the dominant source of residential energy demand, and accounted for 41.4% of all home energy use, followed by electricity at 24.5% and gas at 19.4%. Coal and peat accounted for 6.0% and 5.9% of home energy demand, respectively.
  • Residential energy demand fell by 4.2% in 2021
  • Residential use of coal, peat, and oil all fell appreciably in 2021. Coal demand reduced by 5.1%, peat demand by 5.0%, and oil by 9.0%. However, residential demand for gas increased by 0.9%, driven by new connections.
  • In terms of renewable energy, heat-pumps provided 1.5% of residential energy demand, followed by biomass at 0.9%, and solar-thermal heating at 0.5%.
  • Approximately 0.2% of residential energy demand was satisfied by own generation using rooftop solar PV, up by 43% on the previous year.
  • Over 11,000 SEAI home energy upgrades were carried-out in 2021, and many more will need to be delivered each year to reach the Climate Action Plan target of retrofitting 500,000 homes to a B2 equivalent BER standard by 2030.
  • Provisional data from the first 6-months of 2022 indicates a significant drop of 24% in demand for residential heating oil, compared to the same period in 2021. This drop is larger than can be accounted for by weather-and-temperature effects, and may be due to reduced demand in the face of increased prices on the Irish and International markets

Energy in Business

  • 30.4%

    Energy in Business responsible for 30.4% of Energy Related CO2
  • 3.9%

    The ICT sector accounts for 3.9% of Ireland’s energy demand
  • 17.9%

    Energy demand in the ICT sector increased
  • Ireland’s business activities consist of our industry sector, which emitted 6.2 MtCO2 in 2021, and our commercial services sector, which emitted 4.6 MtCO2. Together, the industry and commercial sectors accounted for 30.4% of Ireland’s energy demand in 2021, increasing by 2.9% from 2020.
  • Within the industry sector, the top sub-sectors are food and beverages (22.2%), metals and metal products (21.0%) and other non-metallic mineral products (20.0%).
  • The ICT sub-sector, which includes datacentres, accounted for 3.9% of Ireland’s total energy demand, and 16.5% of its electricity demand. Energy demand in the ICT sub-sector increased by 17.9% in 2021.
  • The industry sector has high fossil fuel dependency, with 45.5% of its energy demand satisfied by gas, and 14.9% satisfied by oil. In contrast, energy demand in the commercial sector was dominated by electricity, which accounts for 73.6% of its overall demand.
“The message is very clear, we urgently need to limit our current level of fossil fuel use. The Government is investing more money in supporting homes and businesses to do this and we are seeing real momentum. However, we need to see a dramatic increase in sustainable energy action to reverse these trends and stay within our carbon budgets.”
Margie McCarthy, Director of Research and Policy Insights, SEAI