Overview

In 2015 final energy consumption in Ireland was 11.3 Mtoe, 5% higher than in 2000. The transport sector was responsible for the most significant increase in energy demand. It increased by 17% over the period, growing at 1% per annum, and in 2015 accounted for 42% of all final energy use, up from 38% in 2000. The next largest sector in 2015 was households, accounting for 24% of final energy use. Household energy use increased in 2015, having fallen between 2010 and 2014. In 2015 household energy use was 7% above that in 2000. Industry energy use accounted for 21% of final energy use in 2015. Between 2000 and 2015 it decreased by 6%.

Figure 1: Final energy consumption by sector (normal climate)

Source: ODYSSEE

Energy efficiency for final consumers, as measured by ODEX, improved by an average of 2.3% per year from 2000 to 2015 or 29% over the period. Energy intensity in Industry reduced dramatically, due to structural changes in the economy in the early 2000's, with a move away from energy intensive industries to low energy intensity, high value added sectors. Residential energy intensity reduced significantly after 2006, due to a combination of improvements to building efficiency and economic factors. The energy intensity of private cars improved after 2008, but overall there was little improvement in transport energy intensity. Overall services energy intensity improved but there is limited data available to understand the underlying drivers in this sector.

Figure 2: Technical Energy Efficiency Index

Source: ODYSSEE

Ireland's 4th National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP4) was published in early 2017. Each NEEAP provides a comprehensive overview of the progress made towards the EU 2020 target and the measures in place across the residential, commercial, transport and public sector to meet the target. In NEEAP4 it is estimated that implementation of Ireland's NEEAP resulted in energy savings of 12% (18,654 GWh) in 2016, compared to the 2020 target of 20% (31,925 GWh). NEEAP4 estimates that savings of 16% (25,904 GWh) will be achieved by 2020 by the measures currently in place and funded. The key objective of NEEAP4 is to maximise progress to the target based on the resources available.

The carbon tax is an example of a cross-sectoral measure. First introduced in 2010 on liquid fossil fuels but subsequently expanded to solid fossil fuels and increased to €20 per tonne of CO2. Supply side measures on the electricity or gas networks can also be considered cross-sectoral, an example is the targets for improvements in the energy efficiency of the electricity transmission network set by the Commission for Energy Regulation for the Transmission Service Operator.

Table 1: Sample of cross-cutting measures

MeasuresNEEAP measuresDescriptionExpected savings, impact evaluationMore information available
Carbon TaxyesTax on solid and liquid fossil fuels based on the amount of carbon dioxide produced during combustion of the fuel (€/tonneCO2)UnknownLink
Energy Efficiency in Electricity Transmission and DistributionyesMeasures to improve efficiency include placing targets for reduced losses on the Transmission Service OperatorMediumLink
Source: MURE

Buildings

In the residential sector, the energy consumption per m2 (normal climate) remained relatively constant between 2000 and 2005, but improved by 40% between 2005 and 2015, or by 36% when expressed as space heating per dwelling. Total final residential energy consumption increased by 7% between 2000 and 2015. In that time period the number of occupied dwellings increased by 43% and the stock floor area increased by 60%.

Water heating per dwelling also improved by 29% between 2005 and 2015. Space heating remains the dominant end use in households, but it's share of energy use decreased from 72% in 2000 to 65% in 2015. This dramatic improvement in energy intensity was offset by increased activity. The interplay between these competing drivers can be explored through decomposition analysis.

Figure 3: Energy consumption of space heating per m2

Source: ODYSSEE

Figure 4: Energy consumption by end-use per dwelling

Source: ODYSSEE

Total final energy consumption of the residential sector remained e constant over the period 2000-2015 explaining by two different factors. On one hand, the growing number of dwelling and larger homes contributed to increase the energy consumption by 1.4 Mtoe. On the opposite energy savings (1.2 Mtoe) and behavioural changes (0.1 Mtoe) counterbalanced these effects. The energy efficiency of buildings improved due to improved standards for new dwellings and retrofitting of existing dwellings. Economic factors including the post 2009 recession and high oil prices from 2012 are likely to have influenced the behaviour of households leading to decreased spending on fuel and also to increased fuel-poverty. 

Figure 5: Main drivers of the energy consumption variation in households

Source: ODYSSEE

In the commercial sector, energy intensity can be expressed in terms of energy consumption per employee or per unit floor area, though data on floor area is often more difficult to obtain. The intensity of both total energy and electricity improved significantly post 2008, coinciding with the economic crisis which saw the numbers employed falling significantly. The underlying drivers here are less well understood than for households.

Figure 6: Energy and electricity consumption per employee (normal climate)

Source: ODYSSEE

Energy efficiency measures in the households have largely focused on improving the thermal efficiency of dwellings, through improved regulations on new dwellings and a programme of retrofitting for the existing housing stock. The “Better Energy Homes” scheme provides a financial incentive to private homeowners who wish to improve the energy performance of their homes. Fixed grants are provided towards the cost of a range of measures including attic insulation, wall insulation and heating systems upgrades. 

All new buildings, as well as extensions or material changes of use to existing buildings, are subject to Part L of the Building Regulations (Conservation of Fuel and Energy) which sets statutory minimum energy performance requirements. In the case of dwellings, an ambitious programme for upgrading the Regulations has been advanced over the past decade with the standards that pertained in 2005 being used as a benchmark for further improvements. The Regulations were upgraded in 2007 to achieve a 40% improvement in energy efficiency and a 40% reduction in associated carbon emissions relative to 2005 requirements. These Regulations were further revised in 2011 to achieve an aggregate 60% improvement in energy efficiency and an aggregate 60% reduction in associated carbon emissions relative to 2005 requirements. 

Table 2: Sample of policies and measures implemented in the building sector

MeasuresDescriptionExpected savings, impact evaluationMore information available
Better Energy: Homes (Residential Retrofit)This programme, implemented by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, provides capital grants to householders for the implementation of energy efficiency measures including attic and wall insulation and heating controls with efficient boilersHighLink
Building Regulations 2011The 2011 domestic Building Regulations are one of a series of incrementally improved efficiency standards which are moving towards the goal of Near Zero Energy Buildings by 2020. HighLink
Source: MURE

Transport

Overall transport energy demand in Ireland has seen periods of dramatic growth and contraction between 2000 and 2015, as transport activity remains highly sensitive to economic growth. Road freight and aviation in particular have undergone significant fluctuations. Despite these activity changes the split of transport energy consumption by mode remained almost the same in 2015 compared to 2000.

Figure 7: Split of the transport energy consumption by mode

Source: ODYSSEE

Private car transport remains the dominant mode of passenger transport, reflecting Ireland dispersed settlement patterns. Despite an increase in numbers cycling from a low base, and the introduction of a light rail system in Dublin, overall there has been little progress in modal shifting.

Figure 8: Share of transport in passenger traffic

Source: ODYSSEE

Freight also remains dominated by road transport. From an already low base in 2000 the volume of rail freight decreased by 80% between 2000 and 2015, decreasing its share of total freight from 4% to 1%. 99% of freight was transported by road in 2015

Figure 9: Share of modes in freight traffic

Source: ODYSSEE

Total transport energy use was 17% higher in 2015 than in 2000, but within that time period energy use increased 39% from 2000-2007 (4.8% per/annum), decreased 27% from 2007-2012 (-6.1% per/annum) and increased 15% from 2012-2015 (4.7% per annum). The decomposition analysis below indicates that energy consumption increased over the period due to greater activity (vehicle-kilometres travelled for passenger cars, tonne-kilometres transported for freight), and other effects (for example fuel tourism). This was offset by improved energy efficiency, mostly in private cars.

Figure 10: Main drivers of the energy consumption variation in transport

Source: ODYSSEE

Vehicle registration tax and annual motor tax were determined by engine size prior to 2008. From 2008 both registration and annual motor tax were restructured to be based on the specific carbon emissions of the car, with lower emission cars liable for reduced tax rates compared to higher emission cars.

In 2009, EVs were identified as an important element in efforts to achieve both energy efficiency and renewable energy targets as part of the EU Climate Change-Energy Package. Ireland set an initial target of converting 10% of its passenger and light commercial vehicle stock to EVs by 2020 (c. 230,000 vehicles). However, the uptake of EVs was lower than anticipated and the target was later revised to 20,000 EVs by 2020. 

Table 3: Policies and measures into force in the transport sector

MeasuresDescriptionExpected savings, impact evaluationMore information available
Restructuring of Vehicle Registration Tax and Annual Motor Tax Restructuring of Vehicle Registration Tax and Annual Motor Tax on the basis of CO2 Emissions HighLink
Deployment of Low Emission VehiclesGrants for EVsMediumLink
Source: MURE

Industry

Overall industrial energy consumption reduced by 6% between 2000 and 2015. Ireland's economic structure changed considerably between 2000 and 2015, shifting in the direction of the high value-added, low energy intensity sectors and away from traditional “heavier” industries. During the economic downturn there was also a sharp reduction in cement production.

Figure 11: Final energy consumption by branch

Source: ODYSSEE

Energy consumption in industry was lower in 2015 than in 2000, despite activity (measured by the production index) increasing by 132% in that time. . The decomposition analysis below indicates that this reduced energy intensity was due to a combination of structural changes and increased energy efficiency due to fuel switching and initiatives such as the Large Industry Energy Network.

Figure 12: Main drivers of the energy consumption variation in industry

Source: ODYSSEE

The Large Industry Energy Network is a voluntary grouping of companies that work together to develop and maintain robust energy management. Regular networking events, workshops, seminars and site visits provide opportunities for members to meet and learn from energy experts and from fellow energy managers.

The Accelerated Capital Allowance is a tax incentive which encourages companies to invest in energy saving technologies. The ACA allows companies to write off 100% of the purchase value of qualifying energy efficient equipment against their profit in the year of purchase.

Table 4: Policies and measures into force in industry

MeasuresDescriptionExpected savings, impact evaluationMore information available
Large Industry Programmes, Large Industry Energy Network (LIEN) The Large Industry Energy Network (LIEN) is a voluntary grouping, facilitated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, of companies that work together to develop and maintain robust energy management. Regular networking events, workshops, seminars and site visits provide the opportunity for members to meet and learn from specialists, including energy experts, and also from their fellow energy managers on the solutions that work. By learning from experts and sharing knowledge and experiences, members save valuable research time, invest wisely and maximise returns.HighLink
Tax Relief for Energy-Saving Equipment : Accelerated Capital AllowanceThe Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA) is a tax incentive which aims to encourage companies to invest in energy saving technology. The ACA allows companies to write off 100% of the purchase value of qualifying energy efficient equipment against their profit in the year of purchase. HighLink
Source: MURE