Removing fossil fuels essential to meeting Ireland’s carbon emissions targets

by Rachel Cunningham
0 comment

Rachel Cunningham

Thirty eight per cent of Ireland’s energy-related emissions in 2020 were due to heat-related carbon dioxide emissions, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI)’s National Heat Study has revealed.

Alongside Ireland’s economic growth, our nation’s heating demand has been on a steady increase since 2014 and the SEAI has stressed the need for urgency in addressing the damage being caused by fossil fuels in this sector.

The study calls for an unprecedented ramp up of effort and additional measures, if the heat sector is to help in the aim for Ireland to reduce emissions by 51 per cent by 2030. It highlights that no new fossil fuel appliances can be installed in buildings post 2035 if net zero heating emissions are to be reached by 2050. 

Launched last week, the report is a comprehensive analysis of the options for reaching net zero emissions from the heating sector by 2050, comprising a series of technical reports analysing heat supply and use across all sectors and providing key insights and proposed actions to decarbonise the sector.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, said: “Reducing and ultimately removing fossil fuels in the heating of our homes, businesses and industries is central to achieving Ireland’s climate targets. Ireland’s heat has the lowest percentage of renewable energy of any European country. From this low base, we can learn from other countries that are well on the way to achieving zero carbon heating.”

The study suggests that half of building heating in Ireland could be provided through district heating systems, which create a local-level heating grid to deliver low-carbon heat to residential, commercial and public buildings. The heat can be supplied using waste heat from industry or electricity generation, geothermal sources or heat pumps.

Minister Ryan stated that technologies that district heating should play a “large role” in the decarbonisation of our heat sector. He added: “Actions required to deliver our 2050 objective will be addressed in the 2022 Climate Action Plan, this study is a key input to that work.”

The benefits of heat pump uptake were also outlined, as its adoption was predicted to lead to the lowest cumulative CO2 emissions. This is an available technology and is particularly suited to oil-fuelled detached homes that meet an optimal level of building fabric efficiency. The installation of such heat pump systems have been identified as a key measure to achieve the required emissions reductions in the residential sector under the National Retrofit Plan.

Commenting on the study William Walsh, CEO at SEAI, said: “Almost one quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions are heat-related. So, it’s one quarter of the problem we need to solve and it’s the one where we’ve achieved least, to date.

“The recent national retrofit announcement is a massive turning point for government ambition and priorities in the sector. This National Heat Study will support the continued evolution of Ireland’s policy incentives for homes and business to focus on replacing fossil fuels in heating homes and industry. This will drive more immediate and significant reductions in CO2 emissions.”

Click on link to read more in this weeks Digital Edition

Related Articles