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Renewable Energy Ireland launches country’s first green heat plan

Renewable Energy Ireland (REI) has published 40by30, a roadmap to an Ireland where 40 percent of heat can come from renewables by 2030.
"This report is an agreed vision from across our industry and a call to action for the Government to set an ambitious 40 percent renewable heat target by 2030 in the revised Climate Action Plan," said Dr Tanya Harrington, Chairperson of REI.

Renewable Energy Ireland (REI) has published 40by30, a roadmap to an Ireland where 40 percent of heat can come from renewables by 2030 while delivering a 7 percent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) annually.

Renewable Energy Ireland (REI) was established in January 2019 as an open partnership of sustainable energy associations working collectively to support the energy transition in Ireland.

The shared vision is that by 2050 Ireland will be energy independent through using indigenous, clean, carbon-free renewable energy supported by, and supporting, communities across the country.

This plan shows how the renewable heat industry can play its part in delivering the ambition of a 7 percent reduction in our CO2 emissions. This report is an agreed vision from across our industry and a call to action for the Government to set an ambitious 40 percent renewable heat target by 2030 in the revised Climate Action Plan, said Dr Tanya Harrington, Chairperson of REI, at the launch of the plan.

The 40by30 roadmap, a first for the country, was developed by XD Consulting on behalf of REI and with the expert advice of organizations working in district heating, bioenergy, heat pumps, renewable gas, and geothermal.

The 40by30 report provides decision-makers at the national and local level a roadmap on how we can heat our homes, businesses, hospitals, and industrial processes using Ireland’s vast renewable energy resources, and have a big impact on our climate challenge. The analysis we’ve conducted demonstrates that we can meet 40 percent of heat demand with renewable energy cost-effectively, making a direct contribution to Ireland’s 7 percent annual target in greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and creating 23 000 new permanent, full-time jobs over this decade, said author Xavier Dubuisson, XD Consulting.

The plan clearly shows that 40 percent of Ireland’s heat can be provided by renewable sources primarily from bioenergy, heat pumps, renewable gas, and district heating networks.

This heat plan is the first of its kind in Ireland, bringing together all of the key industries in the Irish renewable heat sector and providing much-needed input to the Government’s new ambitious CO2 targets for 2030. Based on the detailed cost-benefit analysis conducted, the findings highlight the key role district heating can play in decarbonizing heat in Ireland, allowing us to deliver all types of large-scale renewable and low-carbon heat through the network with few or no changes required from the consumer. The reports shows district heating can provide 10 percent of Ireland’s heating needs by 2030, meaning a rollout of district heating connecting 1 percent of the heat market per year, a target that has been achieved by climate leading countries in Europe since the 1960s, said Donna Gartland, CEO of the District Energy Association (IrDEA).

This would reduce the nation’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 7 percent annually in line with the Climate Action Bill.

We are delighted to support the development of this vision for the renewable heat sector by Renewable Energy Ireland and its members across all of the renewable sectors and technologies. Bioenergy, including solid biomass and biogas/biomethane, as an indigenous, locally sourced, dispatchable energy source can deliver large emissions reductions across each heat sector and temperature range in Ireland, Paddy Phelan, President of the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA).

The report notes that there is no single solution to decarbonizing heating systems but that homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses can be heated using a combination of several different heating technologies.

This collaborative approach is the only way to achieve the 7 percent annual  CO2 reduction and will, we hope, be supported by Government. RGFI is already pursuing some of the measures and policy recommendations identified, such as the early implementation of Article 23 REDII. However,  a just energy transition in Ireland requires a range of approaches and affordability. Renewable gas (biomethane and BioLPG) plays an important role both on and off the gas grid, alongside other renewable heat technologies. Over 500 000 Irish properties have no connection to the natural gas distribution network; two-thirds currently rely on oil boilers for heating and fuel. BioLPG as a drop-in fuel delivers up to 90 percent certified carbon emission savings compared to conventional fossil fuels, said PJ Mc Carthy, CEO of Renewable Gas Forum Ireland (RGFI).

The report identifies a large number of urgent policy interventions required from the Government and industry to deliver 40by30 including:

  • Update the building regulations and BER assessment methodology to accurately reflect the decarbonization benefits of renewable heat.
  • Make it simpler and easier for consumers/businesses to apply for the financial incentives for renewable heat technologies.
  • Implement Article 23 of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII) under the EU Clean Energy Package with a mandatory high ambition of at least 3 percent per annum.
  • Set Green Procurement targets for the public sector requiring a minimum annual increase in using renewable heat of 20 percent of demand and mandate that all new or replacement public sector heating systems must be 100 percent renewable.
  • Widen the supports for renewable heat in the Home Energy Grants and in the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) and incentivize large heat users to adopt renewable heat solutions.

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