A decarbonised All-Island electricity system is key to achieving climate ambition on the island of Ireland.
EAI welcomes Ireland’s ambition to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and the commitment to reduce emissions by 51% in 2030 compared to 2018 levels. EAI’s ambition is to contribute to the realisation of a net-zero GHG emissions economy by 2050 or sooner, in order to limit the impact of rising temperatures. Electricity offers opportunities to decarbonise the Irish economy in a cost-effective manner, in particular through the progressive electrification of transport and heating. Using electricity to heat our homes and power our cars, will contribute to a reduction in our non-ETS emissions, via the displacement of high carbon fossil fuels in these sectors.
The growing urgency for climate action requires that decarbonisation is central to all economic planning, regulation and environmental protection.
Failure to act early creates a risk of fossil fuel lock in and future regret which will be costly to reverse. We believe a greater focus on emissions reduction, particularly in electricity, transport, heating, and agriculture is necessary to achieve effective and economy-wide decarbonisation, which in turn will enhance our natural environment.
To achieve the decarbonisation ambition, a significant level of renewable energy build out is required.
Deployment of the Programme for Government’s target of 5 GW offshore wind capacity makes a strong contribution to the All-Island renewable energy level from 72% to approximately 97% with additional emissions reductions of ~1.3Mt. However, this scenario results in significant levels of exported power and presents a challenge for policymakers as it highlights a divergence in outcomes between renewable energy policy and decarbonisation policy. In the absence of a cooperation mechanism which accounts for providing decarbonised electricity to other countries, e.g., carbon credits for exported renewable energy, the All-Island system will only realize marginal carbon reduction benefits of being a major exporter of power.