Ireland's use of renewable primary energy doubled in the period 2003 - 2007, with average annual growth of 19% due largely to an increased contribution from wind energy, according to a new report published by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI).
In 2007, Ireland's overall use of renewable energy grew by 12%. 2.1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions were avoided as a result and half of this renewable energy contribution came from wind energy.
These were amongst the key findings of a report published by SEI's Energy Policy Statistical Support Unit (EPSSU) entitled - 'Renewable Energy in Ireland' - which analyses the contribution made by renewable energy to Ireland's energy requirements for the period 1990 to 2007.
The further significant findings of the report include -
* The total electricity generated from renewable energy in 2007 accounted for over 9% of Ireland's gross electricity consumption.
* Total installed wind capacity as of September 2008 was 915 MW. This report indicates that an additional 400MW of wind and biomass capacity will need to be added to the electricity network by 2010 to meet Ireland's target of 15% of electricity to be produced from renewable sources.
Plans for grid connection of wind in the coming period suggest this target is within our reach.
* There was a significant increase in the share of transport energy from renewables in 2007, albeit from a low base. In absolute terms, renewable energy in transport increased from 3toe (kilo tonnes of oil equivalent) in 2006 to 21ktoe in 2007.
* Biodiesel represented 76% of biofuel usage in 2007, with 63% of this produced indigenously.
In addition to the Renewables Report, SEI's Energy Policy Statistical Support Unit also published a report today entitled - 'Understanding Gas and Electricity Prices in Ireland' - which analyses data collected under the new revised methodology for the EU Gas and Electricity Price Transparency Directive which came into effect on 1st January.
The report, which covers the period July - December 2007, gives standardised information on gas and electricity prices, allowing comparison of these prices in Ireland with those of other EU member states. It confirms that electricity prices for industrial and commercial customers in Ireland were higher than the EU average in 2007. This is mainly attributable to Ireland's dependency on fossil fuels in electricity generation - which, at 88%, is the highest in Europe.
In addition, while the report also shows that gas prices for lower-consuming industrial customers were 9-13% above the EU average, for larger consumers, Irish prices were actually 6% below the EU average.
The report compares domestic prices in terms of purchasing power parities, correcting for exchange rates and relative living standards. On this basis, electricity prices for the average domestic user were 9% lower in Ireland than the EU average.
Brian Motherway, Head of Industry, SEI said - "The doubling in renewable energy use between 2003 and 2007 is to be welcomed. The Renewable Energy in Ireland report suggests it is very possible to meet our 2010 renewable electricity target.
"But we cannot become complacent. We must ensure that all the systems are in place to make new grid connections happen. We clearly need to work hard to meet our future targets and growth in all areas of renewables will need to reach levels beyond anything we have seen to-date."
He added - "The new data on energy prices, resulting largely from our fossil fuel dependence, reminds us why it is so important to continue to push for greater use of all types of renewable energy. Increasing the contribution of renewable sources to energy supply is critical - it will help address costs, support our security of supply and ensure we deliver on all our national and EU targets in energy and climate change."