DUBLIN COULD become a green, energy-efficient city by switching to currently available technologies in a series of moves which would largely pay for themselves, a new study on the capital’s carbon emissions has concluded.
According to the study from UCD’s School of Electrical, Electronic and Mechanical Engineering, key changes in energy use, heating and transport could reduce Dublin’s carbon emissions by almost one-third by 2025, compared to 2005 levels.
The study which ranked potential CO2 abatement measures in terms of effectiveness and cost, found the most effective would be the generation of renewable electricity. This was followed by retro-fitting buildings to make them more energy efficient, while in third place was the completion of Transport 21.
But the study found modifying petrol and diesel cars was more effective than introducing electric cars, over the period. While 65 per cent of transport emissions in Dublin come from privately-owned cars, the study said the most effective measure in combating these emissions was to move ahead with Transport 21 with its two metro lines and improved Luas routes. This should be followed by “straight forward fuel efficiency” in car engines which the study said had abatement potential of 0.16megatonnes (mt) of CO2 by 2025, for petrol cars, and 0.13mt of CO2 for diesel.
Electric cars had a potential reduction of just 0.05 mt of CO2 by 2025, and then only if 12 per cent of all cars in the region were electrically powered. Other key moves included city district heating schemes, the use of domestic and commercial biomass fuels, traffic management, Led public lighting and vehicular biofuels.
The research, which recommended about 20 individual switches in technology uses, found greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, transport and energy could be reduced by about 28 per cent by 2025, compared to 2005 levels.
Until 2025 an incremental investment totalling €2.27 billion would be required to finance the changes, but three-quarters of the changes would be self-financing in about four years.
The approach to lowering CO2 emissions by switching technologies was endorsed by Dublin City Manager John Tierney who said “technology could play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and it is also key to driving modern knowledge-based economies . . . there is a real opportunity to put Dublin at the vanguard of sustainable development”.
The UCD research team was led by Prof Gerry Byrne and Dr Donal Finn. It was sponsored by Siemens, whose chief executive Dr Werner Kruckow said the changes represented “a challenge, but not an insurmountable one”.
He described a future in which Dublin was an energy efficient, low CO2 city and said the alternative to investing in that future, was to have to pay for carbon credits. “A choice must be made, but to me it is a no-brainer” he said.