Developing renewable energy is integral to Ireland’s climate change strategy. It contributes to security, cost competitiveness and sustainability goals.
Renewable energy targets
At least 16% of gross final energy consumption (GFC) 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”.
Renewable energy is typically split into three modes: Electricity, Transport and Heat. The graphs below show renewable energy use in Ireland, broken down in different ways.
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 growth in renewable energy as a share of GFC. Renewable electricity accounted for two thirds (66%) of renewable energy used in 2018.
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. This aims to help meet the overall RES target.
Hydro and wind
Historically, hydro was the largest contributor to renewable electricity in Ireland. Since the early 2000s electricity production from wind energy has increased dramatically. Electricity generated from hydro and wind varies depending on rainfall and wind conditions. To even this out, the Renewable Energy Directive allows averaging of wind and hydro output over a number of years. This is known as normalisation.
33.3% of electricity came from renewable sources in 2018, when wind and hydro are normalised. Normalised wind accounted for 85% of renewable electricity generated in 2018.
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 contribution of renewable energy to heat grew from 3.4 % in 2005 to 6.7% in 2017. The share of renewable heat energy reduced to 6.4% in 2018. This was despite growth in the overall amount of renewable heat, however fossil heat use grew at a faster rate, leading to a reduction in the share of renewables.
Renewable heat is dominated by the use of solid biomass. Increased use of wood waste as an energy source in wood processing is the reason for most of the growth since 2000. In the residential sector there has been a large increase in the number of air source heat pumps in recent years leading to an increase in the use of renewable ambient energy.
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 Directive allows the following weighting factors when calculating the share of renewable transport energy for the specific RES-T target:
- 2 for second generation biofuels and biofuels from waste
- 5 for electricity from renewable energy sources consumed by electric road vehicles
- 2.5 electricity from renewable energy sources consumed by rail transport
These weightings make it easier to meet the RES-T target but do not count towards the overall RES target.
In 2018, the RES-T % share, including weightings, was 7.2%, down from 7.4% in 2017. From the perspective of the methodology used to calculate the overall RES target, the share of renewable transport was just 3.2% in 2018.
Renewable energy share in transport (RES-T) by fuel type
Renewable Energy Share of Transport (RES-T) by fuel (%),Biodiesel,Biogasoline,Pure Plant Oil,Renewable Electricity 2005,0,0,0,0 2006,0,0,0,0 2007,0.4,0.1,0,0 2008,0.8,0.4,0.1,0 2009,1.3,0.6,0,0 2010,1.6,0.8,0.1,0 2011,3,0.8,0,0 2012,3.2,0.8,0,0 2013,4.1,0.8,0,0 2014,4.5,0.7,0,0 2015,5,0.8,0,0.1 2016,4.3,0.8,0,0.1 2017,6.6,0.7,0,0.1 2018,6.3,0.7,0,0.1
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. All biodiesel qualifies for the factor of 2 weighing but only about 10% of bioethanol qualified in 2018.
Including the weightings, biodiesel accounted for 88% of renewable transport energy in 2018.
Electricity in transport
Renewable electricity in road and rail transport also counts towards the RES-T target. However with weightings it accounted for just 1.4% of renewable transport energy use in 2018. Most of this was from the DART and Luas electric rail services, but electric vehicle numbers are growing strongly from a low base.
Renewable energy in Ireland
For more information on renewable energy see our latest Renewable Energy in Ireland publication.
Go to latest Renewable Energy in Ireland report