Ireland’s energy use not decreasing quickly enough, SEAI warns

State decoupling economic growth from energy use too slowly, green energy agency says

Everyone has a personal responsibility to be more energy efficient because of the inevitable impacts of climate change, according to Jim Gannon, chief executive of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

Ireland's energy use was not reducing fast enough, and individuals, businesses and communities were central to addressing the problem, he said at the launch of SEAI's report Energy in Ireland 1990-2016 which presents data and trends on energy efficiency and renewable energy in Ireland.

Despite energy use growing last year at a slower rate compared with the economy, Ireland was not decoupling economic growth from energy use quickly enough, he added. “Each of us, in our homes and businesses, has a personal responsibility to find ways to be more energy efficient. No one organisation or policy can address the problem of climate change in isolation – it needs urgent action across our society.”

While cars and homes were becoming more efficient, and there was record investment in efficiency policies, these actions on their own “may not get us to where we need to be”.

The right actions to make a difference were realisable, whether it was turning down the thermostat, switching off a light, looking at energy ratings of appliances or choosing an electric car. “Supports are available to help with this and all of us, as homeowners, businesses and motorists need to make better choices and in much greater numbers.”

Energy import dependency in 2016 was 69 per cent, down from 88 per cent on 2015 – reducing the annual energy import bill to €3.4 billion from €4.6 billion. “The significant reduction in our import dependence gives us a more dependable energy supply in the short term. However, this was heavily reliant on Corrib gas, a finite fossil fuel. This may give us a window of opportunity but it’s not a long-term solution.”

A fifth of indigenous energy was from renewables in 2016. “This represents positive growth but there is room for much more activity, and across a broader range of technologies. Generating our own renewable electricity is critical to achieving our overall energy and climate ambitions,” Mr Gannon said.