Delivering a decarbonised economy by 2050
EAI supports the continued expansion of renewables (RES-E) in electricity generation. Energy firms have invested heavily to transform the sector to deliver a lower carbon future, and, according to the EAI & EY Report ‘Powering the economy. A new energy focus’ 80% of companies intend to increase capital investment over the next three years to meet EU 2020 Climate and Energy targets.
But attaining these targets will also require a contribution from many other sectors of the economy such as transport and domestic heating.
While the targets will largely be met through further development of wind energy, there will also be an ongoing need for investment in conventional back-up generation. This back-up is required to meet demand when wind output is low. In addition to conventional generation, adopting technical solutions such as storage technology and demand-side response will play an increasing role in managing the variability of wind.
The upgrade and reinforcement of the electricity transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure is a crucial step to ensure that the network can cope with both rising levels of electricity demand and the increasing penetration of renewables.
As a priority, the North-South Interconnector needs to be delivered. Delivery of this infrastructure by licensed network operators is only assured if their regulatory model is sufficiently robust to attract the required levels of financial support. EAI also supports enhanced interconnection with the GB and French markets.
While the past decade has seen rapid decarbonisation of the Irish and EU electricity systems, there has been little or no progress in delivering ‘electrification’ of heating and transport with the direct and indirect benefits this provides.
EAI considers the main factor in the slow progress to date is the policy barrier created by the metric by which energy efficiency is measured (the primary energy content of the fuel). A review of the current metric is required to consider the benefits of changing the metric for assessing ‘energy’ efficiency from ‘energy content’ only, to a ‘carbon content’ metric. This would ensure investment is directed towards the long-term decarbonisation of the whole energy system.