Renewable Energy in Ireland
Ireland is not on track to meet any of its 2020 renewable energy targets. Learn more about our renewable energy targets, view our analysis, see where Ireland is leading and where we are falling short.
Renewable energy displaced 2.0 Mtoe of fossil fuel consumption and avoided 4.9 MtCO2 of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. This was equivalent to 13% of total energy-related CO2 emissions, or the same as taking 70% of all private cars off of the road.
In 2018 Ireland was 27th out of 28 EU countries for progress towards the 2020 overall renewable energy target. Ireland’s low share of RES-H is the biggest reason for our poor progress.
"This report demonstrates the challenges we face in transitioning away from fossil fuels. Most of the energy we use to generate electricity, to heat our homes and businesses and for transport comes from burning fossil fuels like gas, coal, peat and oil. We need to eliminate energy waste and transition to using more renewable sources of energy like wind, solar, heat pumps and bioenergy as quickly as we can."
Renewable energy targets
At least 16% of gross final energy consumption in Ireland must come from renewables by 2020. This is a mandatory target under the EU Renewable Energy Directive. It is commonly referred to as “the overall RES target”.
There are further targets for each of the three main modes of energy use: Electricity, Transport and Heat. The graphs below show Irelands progress towards each of our EU and national targets for renewable energy in 2018.
Overall renewable energy share (RES)
Renewable Energy Share (RES) by mode,RES-E (normalised),RES-H,RES-T 2005,1.3,1.5,0 2006,1.6,1.5,0 2007,1.8,1.5,0.2 2008,2.1,1.4,0.4 2009,2.8,1.7,0.6 2010,3.2,1.8,0.8 2011,3.8,1.9,0.9 2012,4.3,2,0.8 2013,4.6,2.1,0.9 2014,5.1,2.4,1.1 2015,5.5,2.4,1.1 2016,5.8,2.4,1 2017,6.6,2.5,1.4 2018,7.2,2.5,1.3
This graph shows the Irelands progress in overall Renewable Energy Share. In 2018 this was 11%, with a 2020 target of 16%. Renewable electricity accounted for two thirds (66%) of renewable energy used in 2018. Transport represents the single largest sector of energy use, but the lowest share of renewables.
Renewable energy share in transport (RES-T)
,% RES-T including weightings,% renewable transport from the perspective of the overall RES target 2005,0,0 2006,0.1,0.1 2007,0.5,0.4 2008,1.3,1.1 2009,1.9,1.6 2010,2.5,2 2011,3.8,2.3 2012,4,2.1 2013,4.9,2.4 2014,5.2,2.7 2015,5.9,2.8 2016,5.2,2.5 2017,7.4,3.4 2018,7.2,3.2
10% of energy consumed in road and rail transport must come from renewable sources. This is a mandatory target set by the Renewable Energy Directive, often referred to as RES-T.
The Renewable Energy Directive also specifies a number of weightings or multipliers that can be applied to certain fuels. These weightings help to incentivise these fuels, and also make it easier to meet the RES-T target.
A weighting factor of 2 is applied to advanced biofuels and biofuels from waste, a weighting of 2.5 is applied to electricity from renewable energy sources consumed by electric rail transport, and a weighting of 5 is applied to electricity from renewable sources consumed by electric cars.
Biodiesel and bioethanol
Renewable transport fuel use is almost entirely due to biodiesel and bioethanol. These are blended in all regular petrol and diesel for sale in Ireland.
Without weighting factors, biodiesel made up 82% of renewable transport energy use in 2018. Bioethanol accounted for 18%. This is partly because of the higher use of diesel than petrol. Most biodiesel qualifies for the factor of 2 weighing but no bioethanol qualifies.
Including the weightings, biodiesel accounted for over 88% of renewable transport energy in 2016.
Electricity in transport
Renewable electricity in road and rail transport also counts towards the RES-T target. However it accounted for just 1.4% of renewable transport energy use in 2018. The DART and Luas tail services are the largest users of electricity for transport, however the number of electric cars on the roads is increasing, albeit from a low base.
Renewable energy share in heat (RES-H)
Renewable Energy Share of Heat (RES-H) by fuel (%),Biomass,Biogas,Solar Thermal,Ambient 2005,3.2,0.1,0,0.1 2006,3.4,0.1,0,0.1 2007,3.5,0.1,0,0.2 2008,3.1,0.1,0.1,0.2 2009,3.6,0.2,0.1,0.3 2010,3.7,0.2,0.1,0.3 2011,3.9,0.2,0.2,0.4 2012,4,0.2,0.2,0.4 2013,4.3,0.2,0.2,0.5 2014,5.3,0.2,0.3,0.5 2015,5.1,0.2,0.3,0.6 2016,5.1,0.2,0.3,0.7 2017,5.3,0.2,0.3,0.9 2018,5,0.2,0.3,0.9
Ireland has set a national target of 12% of heat to come from renewable sources by 2020. The share of renewable heat was 6.5% in 2018. Renewable heat is dominated by the use of solid biomass in industry.
There has been a large increase in the use renewable heat in the residential sector, due mostly to the growing adoption of air-source heat-pumps.
Renewable energy share in electricity (RES-E)
Renewable Energy Share of Electricity (RES-E) by fuel (%),Wind (normalised),Hydro (normalised),Biomass,Other 2005,4,2.7,0,0.9 2006,5.4,2.6,0,0.9 2007,6.4,2.5,0,1.1 2008,7.6,2.5,0.1,1.3 2009,10.5,2.6,0.2,1.5 2010,11.9,2.6,0.4,1.8 2011,14.3,2.7,0.5,1.9 2012,15.5,2.8,0.9,2.3 2013,16.9,2.7,1.1,2.4 2014,19,2.6,1.2,2.7 2015,21.3,2.5,1,2.4 2016,22,2.5,1.6,3 2017,25.2,2.4,1.8,3.2 2018,28.1,2.3,2.2,3.4
There is no binding EU target for renewable electricity. However, Ireland set a target of 40% of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. Renewable electricity makes the largest contribution to the overall RES target.
33.3% of electricity came from renewable sources in 2018, when wind and hydro are normalised. Normalisation is where the output of wind and hydro electricity generators is averaged over a number of years to even out the effect of varying wind and rainfall conditions in any one year.
Normalised wind accounted for 85% of renewable electricity generated in 2018, and 55% of all renewable energy. Wind generated 28% of all electricity in 2018, second only to natural gas.
Ireland had the second largest share of wind energy in the EU after Denmark in 2018. Incorporating such a large share of non-synchronous wind generated electricity on a small, poorly interconnected electricity grid such as Ireland's is a major challenge for the stable operation of the grid. Achieving this has required the Irish grid operator, EirGrid, to become a world leader in this area.
Renewable Energy in Ireland Report
The full report presents the latest national data and trends on renewable energy in Ireland and our progress towards our 2020 targets for renewable energy. It also looks at how Ireland compares to other EU countries in our progress towards each of the targets.