Renewable Energy Ireland (REI) has today (Thursday, May 6) published ‘40by30’, a roadmap to an Ireland where 40% of heat can come from renewables by 2030.

According to REI, this would reduce Ireland’s CO2 emissions by 7% annually, in line with the climate bill.

40% of Ireland’s heat can be provided by renewables

This plan was developed by XD Consulting on behalf of REI and with the advice of organisations working in district heating, bioenergy, heat pumps, renewable gas and geothermal.

The plan outlines that 40% of Ireland’s heat can be provided by renewable sources primarily from bioenergy, heat pumps, renewable gas and district heating networks.

According to the report, there is no single solution to decarbonising Ireland’s heating system, “but we can heat our homes, schools, hospitals and businesses using a combination of several different heating technologies”.

‘Urgent policy interventions’

The report identifies a large number of “urgent policy interventions” required from government and industry, including:

  • Update the building regulations and BER assessment methodology to accurately reflect the decarbonisation benefits of renewable heat;
  • Make it simpler and easier for consumers/businesses to apply for  the financial incentives for renewable heat technologies;
  • Implement Article 23 of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII) under the EU Clean Energy Package with a mandatory high ambition of at least 3% per annum;
  • Set green procurement targets for the public sector requiring a minimum annual increase in using renewable heat of 20% of demand and mandate that all new or replacement public sector heating systems must be 100% renewable;
  • Widen the supports for renewable heat in the Home Energy Grants and in the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) and incentivise large heat users to adopt renewable heat solutions.

Report Author, Xavier Dubuisson of XD Consulting said that this report provides decision-makers at national and local level “a roadmap on how we can heat our homes, businesses, hospitals and industrial processes using Ireland’s vast renewable energy resources, and have a big impact on our climate challenge”.

“The analysis we’ve conducted demonstrates that we can meet 40% of heat demand with renewable energy cost effectively, making a direct contribution to Ireland’s 7% annual target in greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and creating 23,000 new permanent, full-time jobs over this decade,” he added.

Renewables plan ‘first of its kind in Ireland’

Donna Gartland, CEO of the District Energy Association (IrDEA) said that this plan, which is the “first of its kind in Ireland”, brings together “all of the key industries in the Irish renewable heat sector”, providing “much-needed input to the government’s targets”.

“Based on the cost benefit analysis conducted, the findings highlight the key role district heating can play in decarbonising heat in Ireland, allowing us to deliver all types of large-scale renewable and low carbon heat through the network with few or no changes required from the consumer,” Gartland said.

“The report shows district heating can provide 10% of Ireland’s heating needs by 2030, meaning a rollout of district heating connecting 1% of the heat market per year, a target that has been achieved by climate leading countries in Europe since the 1960s.”

A just energy transition in Ireland

Paddy Phelan, president of the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) has called on Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan to adopt the 40by30 plan in the upcoming revision of the Climate Action Plan and “to ramp up supports for bioenergy to transition the sector away from fossil fuels”.

PJ McCarthy, CEO of Renewable Gas Forum Ireland (RGFI) said that a collaborative approach “is the only way to achieve the 7% annual CO2 reduction”.

“We [RGFI] are advocating and supporting consumer and sector-led initiatives to decarbonise industrial heat demand requirements, with an independent business case for AD biomethane production, which also benefits the environment and rural economy,” McCarthy said.

“However, a just energy transition in Ireland requires a range of approaches and affordability. 

“Renewable gas [biomethane and BioLPG] plays an important role both on and off the gas grid, alongside other renewable heat technologies.

“Over 500,000 Irish properties have no connection to the natural gas distribution network; two-thirds currently rely on oil boilers for heating and fuel. 

“BioLPG as a drop-in fuel delivers up to 90% certified carbon emission savings compared to conventional fossil fuels.”