Is Ireland’s electricity system environmentally friendly? Is our electricity system helping fight climate change?
Yes, our electricity system is, in comparison with others such as Spain, Germany and the UK (see Fig 5 in next question), environmentally friendly; but we will need to do a lot more if we are to continue to play our part in fighting the threat of climate change.
We can measure the environmental performance of our electricity system by the greenhouse gas emissions emitted per unit of electricity generated, the efficiency with which we convert our fuel resources into electricity, and by the level of renewables in the electricity we use.
Ireland’s electricity system has improved on all three of these measures since 1990 1.
- Our greenhouse gas emissions per unit (kWh) of electricity generated have fallen by nearly 50% since 1990 i.e. from 896g CO2/kWh in 1990 to 456g CO2/kWh in 2014 (Fig. 1).
- The average efficiency at which we turn our primary energy into electricity has improved from 33.5% in 1990 to 49.1% in 2014. This means that we now extract 46% more power from the same amount of fuel as we did in 1990.
- In 1990 about 4.9% of Ireland’s electricity came from renewable sources of energy. That figure has massively increased to over 22% in 2014 2.