Energy report offers new roadmap to address challenges of climate change

New report by PWC says Ireland has the opportunity to address the challenge of climate change cost effectively and in a way that offers societal benefits

  • PwC’s report ‘Transitioning to a low carbon energy system’, outlines how Ireland might achieve its 2050 low carbon objective while also significantly reducing energy imports.  The three key areas examined are the Electricity, Heat and Transport sectors.
  • The report recommends that policy makers should prioritise achieving a singular goal of emissions reductions across sectors and highlights that this can only be realised via a suite of complementary and not competing policy objectives and instruments.
  • Finally the report notes that the policy system must ensure the alignment and integration of energy policy, infrastructure planning, capital investment frameworks and energy regulation.

A new report by PWC, entitled 'Transitioning to a low carbon energy system', which was commissioned by the Electricity Association of Ireland, seeks to answer a range of key questions:

  • What are the most appropriate low carbon technologies for Ireland?
  • How can this transition be achieved with societal acceptance and genuinely engaged consumers?
  • When is the appropriate time to transition away from coal and peat for power generation and what is the alternative fuel source?
  • What form of policy is required to drive this transition?
  • What sector can most cost effectively contribute to meeting our 2050 targets?

 In response the report addresses the following areas:

  • The PwC Roadmap details a least cost path to achieving Ireland’s decarbonisation targets that would see a 92% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (vs 1990 levels) from the electricity sector, an 80% reduction from the heat sector and a 94% reduction in the transport sector.
  • The Roadmap focuses on the deployment of proven, cost effective, technologies.  It also takes into account key features of the energy system specific to Ireland including our island status and current reliance on imported fossil fuels.
  • Security of supply is given prominence in selecting future technologies. The report notes that, while at this juncture it is not possible to know the terms of the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU, all of our existing electricity interconnection is with the UK and all our imported gas comes via the UK transmission system.

The report is optimistic that Ireland can address the challenge of climate change cost effectively and in a way that offers significant societal benefits. We encourage those in the industry, government and the general public to consider this report as an aid to finding an economically viable pathway towards meeting Ireland’s emissions reductions targets in the long term.

Speaking about the report, Sean Kyne, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, said: “I welcome this report by PwC which presents a comprehensive overview of the challenge of meeting Ireland’s 2050 targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. More usefully it presents a pragmatic roadmap pointing to how this challenge may be met in the transport, heating and electricity sectors.  The Government is fully committed to achieving a low carbon economy whilst maintaining energy security, a competitive economy and a safe environment for all.  In this context, this report will provide a useful input to the finalisation of the national greenhouse gas mitigation plans currently being prepared under the Climate Change and Low Carbon Development Act.  Increased cross-governmental thinking is already happening and will indeed be required to implement a range of solutions along the way if Ireland is to avoid high costs. I am particularly pleased that this is recognised in the PwC Roadmap and would encourage people to read the report. ”

Commenting on the report the Chief Executive of EAI, Owen Wilson, said: “The all-island electricity industry is clear that it has a responsibility to take a lead in explaining the need for an Irish energy transition, and the challenges that lie ahead for businesses and for consumers. The industry is conscious that people need to have some tangible vision of what the transition might look like in terms of scale and complexity if they are to fully understand and appreciate the impact of the transition to a low-carbon energy future. The PWC Roadmap seeks to provide direction in navigating this process.”

 Kim McClenaghan, Director, PwC Advisory Energy & Utility Practice, said: “Our Roadmap outlines a range of technologies and suggested phasing to achieve Ireland’s 2030 and 2050 decarbonisation targets. Policy will play a critical role in delivering the energy transition.  In our view, Ireland’s policy system should implement four fundamental macro-level changes to enable the successful transition to a low carbon economy (1) The Government should establish a system of continually reducing mandatory carbon budgets (2) Policy makers should focus on achieving one common goal of emissions reductions across sectors and recognise that this can only be realised via a suite of complementary and not competing policy objectives (3) Policy makers should identify the range of measures that deliver the most cost-effective abatement return for consumers, and (4) The policy system must ensure the alignment and integration of energy policy, infrastructure planning, capital investment frameworks and energy regulation.”

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