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

The National Energy Balance is the official record of how energy is used in Ireland each year. It shows how over thirty different fuels are used in seven different sectors of society, including residential, transport, industry and services. It shows the flow of energy from imports and production to transformation and on to final consumption. The National Energy Balance is our primary statistical release and is the basis of much of the further analysis we do. The data is shown in the form of a table.

Developing the National Energy Balance is a continuous and ongoing process, and revisions are made whenever improved data becomes available. We welcome any feedback, which can be sent to epssu@seai.ie.

2021 Interim Energy Balance

The 2021 Interim Energy Balance shows that Ireland’s energy use increased by 4.3% last year. This follows a decrease in 2020, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most notably, there has been a rebound in demand for oil products, particularly for transport as travel restrictions have eased. The figures underline the challenges arising from Ireland’s high dependency on imported fossil fuels.

Energy-related CO2 emissions increased by 6.3%, faster than our energy use, largely due to the types of fuels we had to use, particularly in electricity generation. A combination of low-wind periods in 2021, and less rain for hydro-generation meant that less of our electricity came from renewable sources. Coupled with temporary closures on some gas fired generation stations, this led to a tripling of coal and oil use for electricity generation, both extremely carbon intensive fuels.

Energy Supply

  • Ireland’s energy supply increased by 4.3% in 2021, substantially rebounding from the strong COVID impacts of 2020
  • Fossil fuels accounted for 86.2% of Ireland’s energy supply share in 2021, up from 85.7% in 2020
  • 11.8% of Ireland’s energy supply came from renewable energy, down from 13.3% in 2020
  • 7.1% of Ireland’s energy supply came from coal, more than double the share used in 2020
  • 1.9% of Ireland’s energy supply came from peat, down from a 3.1% share in 2020
  • Oil and natural gas accounted for 45.8% and 31.4% of Ireland’s energy supply, respectively

Energy Related CO2

  • Ireland’s CCAC all-sector 2021-2025 carbon budgets call for a 4.8% annual reduction in CO2
  • Excluding international aviation, Ireland emitted 33.9Mt of energy related CO2 in 2021, up by  6.1% from 32.0Mt of CO2 in 2020
  • Including international aviation, Ireland emitted 35.2Mt of energy related CO2 in 2021, up by 6.3% from 33.2Mt of CO2 in 2020
  • The increase in energy related CO2 emissions was driven by increased in oil consumption, after the lifting of COVID-related travel restrictions, and increased use of fossil fuels for electricity generation
  • CO2 emissions from electricity generation increased by 16.9% in 2021

Renewable Energy

  • 11.8% of Ireland’s energy supply came from renewable energy, down from 13.3% in 2020
  • The reduction in renewable energy was due to a combination of low-wind periods throughout the year, and low-rain periods for hydro-generation
  • Wind energy and hydro energy outputs were down by 15.8% and 19.6%, respectively
  • The reduced availability of renewable energy impacted Ireland’s ability to avoid CO2 emissions from fossil fuels

Electricity

  • The renewable energy share of electricity generation fell to 35% (down from 42% in 2020)
  • The drop in renewable energy share of electricity was due to a combination of low-wind periods throughout the year, and low-rain periods for hydro-generation
  • To compensate for reduced renewable generation, both electricity generation from fossil fuels, and the net-import of electricity, increased
  • The use of both coal and oil for electricity generation more than tripled in 2021, accounting for 14.0% and 7.5% of energy input for electricity generation, respectively
  • CO2 emissions from electricity generation increased by 16.9% in 2021
  • The carbon intensity of electricity was 333 gCO2/kWh, up from 296 gCO2/kWh in 2020

Energy Security

  • Energy security is essential for economic stability and growth, with indigenous energy sources considered more secure than imported energy.
  • Ireland imported 77% of its energy supply in 2021, up from 72.1% in 2020
  • Ireland imported 71.3% of its natural gas in 2021, up from 63.8% in 2020
  • 28.7% of Ireland’s natural gas came from the Corrib gas-field in 2021, down from 36.2% in 2020
  • In 2021, 5.5% of electricity available to consumers was imported from Northern Ireland or Wales
  • 91.5% of Ireland’s renewable energy is indigenous. The value is not 100%, because we import most of our biodiesel and bioethanol, and 15% of our biomass
Download 2021 Energy Balance excel file    Download historical Energy Balances
‘The Government passed into law carbon budgets that call for an annual reduction of 4.8% in energy-related CO2 emissions in late 2021.  The emissions in 2021 are clear signals of how important it is to deliver the actions identified in our national Climate Action Plan, without delay.  We need to make the shift away from fossil fuels to renewables much quicker to ensure a clean and secure supply of energy. The reasons to reduce fossil fuel dependency are clear and will help insulate us from large scale increases in gas and oil prices. We need to both increase our generation of renewable electricity, and switch to technologies driven by this clean energy. The most secure unit of energy is the one we either don’t use, or that we source from Irish renewables.
Margie McCarthy, Director of Research and Policy Insights, SEAI

Important revisions to historical data

In 2020 we published significant revisions to the historical energy balances going back as far as 1990. This was because we incorporated a major new data set on business energy use for the first time. This is the Business Energy Use Survey (BEUS), first published by the the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in December 2018. This valuable new data source provides a new basis for the breakdown of energy use in the commercial services, public services and industrial sectors, at a level of detail not previously possible. SEAI revised the National Energy Balances from 1990 to 2018 incorporating this new improved data. In some cases the revisions to estimates of business energy use have had knock on effects in other sectors, particularly residential, leading to revisions there also.

There are some significant methodological differences between the BEUS and the National Energy Balances. These differences mean that the BEUS and the National Energy Balance data are not always directly comparable. To make use of the BEUS, the data needs to be carefully examined and compared on a fuel by fuel and sector by sector basis, and expert judgement is required to assess the most appropriate use of the data.

Due to the scale and importance of these revisions we have prepared a supporting report. This report explains the new data that is available, the methodology for incorporating it into the National Energy Balance, and a detailed comparison between the old and revised Energy Balance data for each fuel and sector. We have also made available a supporting excel spreadsheet comparing the old and revised data.

More information on the BEUS is also available directly from the CSO:

https://www.cso.ie/en/methods/surveybackgroundnotes/businessenergyuse/

Download Energy Balance Revisions    Download Energy Balance Revisions (excel)