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)
,RES-E (normalised),RES-H,RES-T 2000,0.888715972,1.059097069,0 2001,0.903899852,1.128180355,0 2002,0.94094358,1.129540048,0 2003,0.983127369,1.07126046,0 2004,1.138907878,1.21980054,0 2005,1.333531934,1.457526675,0.008551669 2006,1.614054879,1.48218303,0.02033144 2007,1.834433394,1.485230692,0.162753582 2008,2.10805972,1.429600038,0.415532972 2009,2.826118758,1.669609604,0.631103387 2010,3.178548941,1.799999199,0.763741379 2011,3.848153528,1.866689859,0.866958008 2012,4.322506076,1.964852794,0.780297743 2013,4.596999859,2.071202472,0.924543008 2014,5.16442002,2.40694682,1.061600131 2015,5.546849056,2.384447127,1.125341283 2016,5.804930832,2.404351426,1.00998139 2017,6.598108979,2.637393379,1.365850133
This graph shows the growth in renewable energy as a share of GFC. Renewable electricity accounted for over 60% of renewable energy used in 2017.
Renewable energy share in electricity (RES-E)
,Wind (normalised),Hydro (normalised),Biomass,Landfill Gas,Other 2000,1.012210461,3.417124774,0,0.399629817,0 2001,1.302807339,3.261944568,0,0.397834468,0 2002,1.436634296,3.218713926,0,0.319577054,0 2003,1.833687815,3.052300418,0,0.268786238,0.061436854 2004,2.685194782,2.934241344,0.029836273,0.317010405,0.059672547 2005,3.976233959,2.747281868,0.028512805,0.384301454,0.057805991 2006,5.435959766,2.618864432,0.027295204,0.374897477,0.042003555 2007,6.421401025,2.508074487,0.046526989,0.468667344,0.056950962 2008,7.611578389,2.492101458,0.108868399,0.523567683,0.055226686 2009,10.5205105,2.621773417,0.22682283,0.58747201,0.06210633 2010,11.91109948,2.631632445,0.382999815,0.636295052,0.07992733 2011,14.31602151,2.718647713,0.492807591,0.644996343,0.079343365 2012,15.47281567,2.755522529,0.891602528,0.626360584,0.091233214 2013,16.85098477,2.650016199,1.08317609,0.560199473,0.105770821 2014,18.96057687,2.602993044,1.206656415,0.598866324,0.13828469 2015,21.34256169,2.519175008,0.951653201,0.59733249,0.114771192 2016,22.04592245,2.476008537,1.597026881,0.545296588,0.170579662 2017,25.23029099,2.389865387,1.77453268,0.517027956,0.178174937
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.
30.1% of electricity came from renewable sources in 2017, when wind and hydro are normalised. Normalised wind accounted for 84% of renewable electricity generated in 2017.
Renewable energy share in heat (RES-H)
,Biomass,Biogas,Solar Thermal,Ambient 2000,2.278178593,0.086518468,0.002403291,0.000961316 2001,2.473978151,0.084793711,0.002355381,0.000942152 2002,2.536228007,0.087027329,0.003384396,0.008971331 2003,2.331244894,0.134291056,0.004211218,0.024622399 2004,2.675026567,0.144086712,0.005524091,0.044261673 2005,3.231386119,0.127379146,0.008482591,0.078009621 2006,3.415545807,0.115580932,0.012302887,0.127771981 2007,3.466721923,0.099776403,0.027424142,0.189385901 2008,3.107241926,0.093504921,0.059480432,0.244572387 2009,3.585037539,0.159191892,0.109212342,0.29297597 2010,3.664736008,0.164440908,0.147224032,0.308274609 2011,3.873317868,0.208989072,0.191506286,0.381532554 2012,4.000228154,0.198515561,0.211958991,0.424272314 2013,4.323515259,0.160065112,0.228049901,0.459848806 2014,5.266430571,0.193594832,0.25523798,0.542781617 2015,5.125064609,0.202047015,0.261204272,0.617283691 2016,5.090496801,0.207420866,0.269504926,0.72006091 2017,5.438999712,0.214901238,0.278966997,0.911375307
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 2.4 % in 2000 to 6.8% in 2017. 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,RES-T excluding weightings 2005,0.041806451,0.032388345 2006,0.076345414,0.066457703 2007,0.478110966,0.468027153 2008,1.264213533,1.251123883 2009,1.912203879,1.899049994 2010,2.45783601,2.441596597 2011,3.799481425,2.689363834 2012,4.024927296,2.425298509 2013,4.906981568,2.849189534 2014,5.247136952,3.146989193 2015,5.872278413,3.32652457 2016,5.177967265,2.971827352 2017,7.423693571,4.073935196
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:
- 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.
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 81% of renewable transport energy use in 2017. 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 89% of renewable transport energy in 2017.
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% of renewable transport energy use in 2017. 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