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Ireland‘s government will make it mandatory for the heat sector to include a share of renewable energy in their services by 2024.
Currently, the country’s heating sector is substantially behind the European Union average in meeting heating needs from renewable energy.
“Ireland’s renewable energy share in the heat sector last year was 6.8%, compared to the European Union average of 22%,” the Ireland government said.
It added that while progress is being made, with an increase of half a percentage point on the previous year, significant action is needed to transform the energy sector to a high-renewable, low-carbon system on a pathway to net zero emissions by 2050.
The Department of the Environment, Climate, and Communications will now carry out a detailed study, which will be the basis for a final program. The government will then propose a share for renewable obligation, scalability, and costs to the consumers.
The government expects to undertake a technical consultation in Q1 2023 to inform the scheme’s final design.
“The obligation will further incentivize suppliers of all fuels in the heat sector to ensure that a certain proportion of the energy supplied is renewable,” the government said.
Previous public consultation
The country debated this issue in 2021 and received a total of 50 submissions from a wide range of stakeholders, including members of the public and industry groups.
As much as 76% of respondents agreed that a renewable heat obligation (RHO) should be introduced.
Respondents also called for the RHO to be implemented in parallel with existing government initiatives while highlighting the need for a considerable level of market maturity to support the successful implementation of the scheme
Further, the consultation revealed the suitability of indigenously produced renewable energy for RHO as it would have lower emissions associated with transmissions.
National heat study
The National Heat Study, published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) in February 2022, pointed out that heat-related carbon emissions were rising.
Further, it said that while Ireland aims to cut economy-wide emissions by 51% from 2018 levels by 2030, the current Climate Action Plan measures are unlikely to deliver enough heat-related CO2 cuts to meet a proportional share.
Additionally, the study completed an extensive spatial analysis to estimate the availability and production costs of bioenergy resources in Ireland.
It highlighted that significant resources could be achieved by cultivating energy crops, including grass, for anaerobic digestion and perennial energy crops for combustion and other thermochemical energy production technologies.
The study also indicated biomethane as a competitive, cost-efficient path to achieving climate ambitions.
The government said that when changing the way energy is sourced, it is crucial to avoid negatively impacting Ireland’s biodiversity, land use, and food security.
Earlier this year, the Ireland government announced a package listing measures to mitigate the hike in power bills while ensuring a secure power supply to businesses and households in the country.
In June, Ireland’s state-owned power grid, EirGrid, released the final results of the auction it conducted to deploy 1.9 GW of clean energy capacity under its Renewable Electricity Support Scheme 2.