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)

Download data

Share of Gross Final Energy Consumption (%),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
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 2017.

Renewable energy share in electricity (RES-E)

Download data

Share of electricity Gross Final Consumption (%),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
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.

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)

Download data

Share of heat Gross Final Consumption (%),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
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 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)

Download data

Share of transport Gross Final Consumption (%),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
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 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 publicatio

Go to latest Renewable Energy in Ireland report