Today’s (Friday, November 20) greenhouse gas emissions report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “confirms wind energy is leading the drive to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions” according to the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA).

The report found that carbon emissions fell in 2019 by 4.5% – the largest drop since 2011 – and that this was “largely fuelled” by an 11% fall in electricity generation emissions as “cheap wind energy increasingly displaces coal and peat”. 

Dr. David Connolly, CEO of the IWEA, said: “Every new wind farm means less carbon emissions, a cleaner energy system and more jobs and investment at home.

Today’s figures from the EPA show that wind energy is leading the way in decarbonising Ireland’s electricity supply.

“We are on track to do even better in 2020 and, as our growing number of onshore wind farms are soon joined by significant amounts of offshore wind, we can look forward to becoming Ireland’s main source of electricity later this decade.”

Climate Action Plan

The EPA report found that electricity generated from wind increased by 16% in 2019, with renewables accounting for 37.6% of electricity generated.

The Climate Action Plan has a target for 70% of Ireland’s electricity to come from renewable energy by 2030.

Dr. Connolly said: “The EPA’s figures show we are heading in the right direction but we will need government to act to speed up the planning system, develop our electricity grid and clear the way for offshore wind development if we are to hit 70% by the end of the decade.”

Emissions from agriculture decreased by 3.9% in 2019

The overall emission reductions have been driven by a number of factors across the sectors, including agriculture.

Agriculture emissions decreased by 3.9% (0.86 Mt CO2eq) in 2019. This was driven by reduced fertiliser use (down 10.1%) and a reduction in the quantity of lime used on soils (down 25.4%), which had both increased substantially the previous year.

According to the EPA data, agricultural emissions in 2018 were “the highest in the 30-year time series”.

The report continues:

“The size of the dairy herd continued to increase, for the ninth consecutive year (+2.8% in 2019), with a 5.3% increase in total national milk production.

Other cattle numbers decreased in 2019 by 3%, resulting in an overall decrease in the cattle herd of -2.7% year over year.

“Total fossil fuel combustion emissions from agriculture/forestry/fishing activities decreased by 1.7%. In the last five years, the numbers of other cattle have decreased by 0.4%, whereas there have been increases in the numbers of sheep (+0.9%), pigs (+5.5%) and poultry (+9.6%).”

Emissions from agriculture are up 8.5% in the last five years (between 2014 and 2019) and in 2019, they were 9.5% above 1990 levels.