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Energy Sources

Energy Uses


Modern energy supply began as a private or local service of gas and electricity, largely based on coal in the early 20th Century. This grew to become national state-owned utilities, which was later unbundled to facilitate competition in generation and customer choice of supplier. The pattern of energy demand has shifted over the years reflecting economic growth throughout history as well as changing relative costs of different fuels, the perceived security of continued supplies and more recently, environmental considerations.


  • 1600 By the end of the 1500s turf was the main fuel in Ireland.


  • 1825 The first industrial scale harvesting of hand-won turf at Mona bog along the Shannon began.


  • 1845 During the famine years the one of the only forms of heat for cooking and warmth was a peat fire. Where local pits existed, coal also protected the population from the worst ravages of the famine providing employment and fuel.


  • 1850 Colonel Kitchener, experimenting with the production of peat charcoal to manufacture gunpowder, discovered how to produce peat briquettes which have a higher heat output and longer burning time.


  • 1902 Oil distribution depots for the distribution of lamp oil and kerosene are established at various strategic rail locations around the country.


  • 1911 Housing patterns were very different from today; 22% of dwellings in Dublin were large homes and 36% were one room tenements. Nearly 10% of housing units had ten or more rooms.


  • 1977 Government grant scheme for installation of domestic solid fuel central heating.
  • 1978 Residential and industrial conversion to use of natural gas fueled by Kinsale gas field, first in Cork and then in Dublin.


  • 1981 The dominant fuel for space heating was electricity.
  • 1982 The conversion of the Cork gas system from town gas to direct use of natural gas commenced.
  • 1987 Many districts in urban cities found to be in breach of smoke and SO2 standards in winter, largely due to the open fire combustion of bituminous coal. The Air Pollution Act is transposed banning the sale and supply of smoky coal.
  • 1988 First initiative in Ireland to tackle fuel poverty through energy efficiency actions.
  • 1990 Building Regulations (including Part L – Conservation of Fuel & Energy) enacted.


  • 1993 Bord Gáis build the first Irish sub-sea gas interconnector pipeline from Moffat in Southwest Scotland to Loughshinny in North County Dublin.


  • 2000 Decrease in residential energy use since 1987 due in part to the switch from the use of solid fuels in open fires and back boilers to more efficient oil and natural gas central heating.
  • 2002 Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) established as a statutory authority under the Sustainable Energy Act. Delivers a range of energy efficiency, renewable energy and CHP programmes.
  • 2002 90% of dwellings have central heating.
  • 2004 Ireland’s first solid biomass fuelled CHP plant begins operating producing heat for timber drying operations.
  • 2004 Average dwelling consumed 24,500 kWh of energy. 79% was in the form of direct fossil fuels and the remainder as electricity (net consumption).
  • 2007 Renewable Heat Deployment Programme and Combined Heat and Power Deployment Programme launched.
  • 2009 Renewable Energy Directive individually binding targets – 16% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 for Ireland. National targets of 40% renewable electricity, 10% renewable transport, and 12% renewable heat by 2020.


  • 2010 Central heating systems fired by oil and gas in 80% homes in Ireland.
  • 2013 Main sources of heat are oil (44%) and gas (37%).
  • 2013 Renewable heat in industry has remained relatively static since 2005.
  • 2013 Solar energy provided 1.2% of the renewable primary energy (all of this was in the residential sector).
  • 2013 A third of all energy use is for thermal (heating) purposes. Residential households accounted for the largest share of thermal demand.
  • 2014 Ireland achieves 6.6% of heat from renewable sources (12% target for 2020), 3.1% renewable transport or 5.2% if using double certificate weightings (10% target), and 22.7% renewable electricity (40% target).