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.

Renewable energy contribution to Gross Final Energy Consumption (RES)

  RES-E (normalised) RES-T RES-H
2000 0.9 0 1.1
2001 0.9 0 1.1
20020.9 0 1.1
2003 1 0 1.1
2004 1.1 0 1.2
2005 1.3 0 1.5
2006 1.6 0 1.5
2007 1.8 0.2 1.5
2008 2.1 0.4 1.5
2009 2.8 0.6 1.7
2010 3.2 0.8 1.9
2011 3.8 0.9 2
2012 4.3 0.8 2.1
2013 4.6 0.9 2.2
2014 5.2 1.1 2.6
2015 5.5 1.1 2.6
2016 5.8 1 2.6
Source: SEAI

This graph shows the growth in renewable energy as a share of GFC. Renewable electricity accounted for over 60% of renewable energy used in 2016.

Renewable energy contribution to electricity (RES-E)

 Wind (normalised)Hydro (normalised)BiomassLandfill gasOther
2000 1 3.4 0 0.4 0
2001 1.3 3.3 0 0.4 0
2002 1.4 3.2 0 0.3 0.1
2003 1.8 3.1 0 0.3 0.1
2004 2.7 2.9 0 0.3 0.1
2005 4 2.7 0 0.4 0.1
2006 5.4 2.6 0 0.4 0
2007 6.4 2.5 0 0.5 0.1
2008 7.6 2.5 0.1 0.5 0.1
2009 10.5 2.6 0.2 0.6 0.1
2010 11.9 2.6 0.4 0.6 0.1
2011 14.3 2.7 0.5 0.6 0.1
2012 15.5 2.8 0.9 0.6 0.1
2013 16.9 2.7 1.1 0.6 0.1
2014 19 2.6 1.2 0.6 0.1
2015 22.3 2.5 1 0.6 0.1
2016 22.1 2.5 1.6 0.5 0.2
Source: SEAI

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.

27% of electricity came from renewable sources in 2016, when wind and hydro are normalised. Normalised wind accounted for 82% of renewable electricity generated in 2016.

Renewable energy contribution to heat (RES-H)

 BiomassSolarBiogasGeothermal/Ambient
2000 2.3 0 0.1 0
2001 2.5 0 0.1 0
2002 2.5 0 0.1 0
2003 2.3 0 0.1 0
2004 2.7 0 0.1 0.1
2005 3.2 0 0.1 0.1
2006 3.4 0 0.1 0.2
2007 3.5 0 0.1 0.3
2008 3.1 0.1 0.1 0.4
2009 3.6 0.1 0.2 0.5
2010 3.7 0.1 0.2 0.5
2011 3.9 0.2 0.2 0.6
2012 4 0.2 0.2 0.7
2013 4.3 0.3 0.2 0.7
2014 5.2 0.3 0.2 0.9
2015 5.1 0.3 0.2 1
2016 5.1 0.3 0.2 1.2
Source: SEAI

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 2016. 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.

Renewable energy contribution to transport (RES-T)

 Overall Directive With Double Certs
20050.030.03
20060.070.07
2007 0.470.47
20081.251.25
20091.901.90
20102.442.44
20112.643.74
20122.383.94
20132.854.78
20143.155.11
20153.335.70
20162.975.03
Source: SEAI

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.

Weighting factors

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 2016. 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 90% 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 less than 1% of renewable transport energy use in 2016.

Renewable energy in Ireland

See the download below for more information on renewable energy.