The Poolbeg powerstation, located in Dublin Bay

Study: Ireland needs to shake off fossil fuel reliance in the heating sector fast

Study: Ireland needs to shake off fossil fuel reliance in the heating sector fast

Without the roll-out of solutions like heat pumps and district heating, the 2030 and 2050 emissions goals could prove hard to reach

Yesterday, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland published a study on the emissions generated from the heating sector. It found out that in the past eight years, emissions have been rising due to economic growth and that Ireland has a serious dependency on fossil fuels in the sector.

Also, heating takes up a quarter of national emissions and if the Republic was to reach its 51% targeted CO2 cut by 2031, the government has to act quickly and decisively.

The study puts emphasis on the National Retrofit Scheme as a good start, yet it also points out that Ireland can implement a myriad of other tried and trusted plans, such as a central heating system and heating pumps.

A neglected sector

One of the main points of the study is that Ireland has a serious dependency on fossil fuels in its heating sector. The majority of emissions in the sector come from natural gas (39%) and oil (36%), while the rest are from coal and peat. Furthermore, 81% of these emissions are from the residential industrial sector.

The residential sector accounts for 48% of carbon from heating, amounting to 6.8 metric tons of CO2. A quarter of those come from oil boilers and 61% are from detached houses and 21% come from solid fuels like coal and peat.

The study identifies several key technologies that are available and used in other countries at a commercial scale today. One is the heat pump, a low-energy electric solution, perfectly suited for detached homes.

The other is district heating. The study suggests that at least half of all buildings in Ireland can be connected to a central district heating network. The heat can be supplied using waste heat from industry, wasted energy from electricity generation or geothermal sources.

People do not buy heating systems that often

According to the study, the average lifespan of a heating system is 15 or more years, meaning that from now till 2050, each household in the country could feasibly buy a new one 1 or 2 times.

This puts a certain shrinking window of opportunity for the government in instituting measures that promote less carbon-intensive solutions for households. This is because Ireland’s current emissions targets call for a 51% reduction by 2030 and net-zero by 2050.

Eamon Ryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, explained in a press release that the fast deployment of existing "new-to-Ireland" solutions would play a key role in the sector. He also said that the actions required to deliver on 2050’s objectives will be addressed in the 2022 Climate Action Plan and this study has been a key input.  



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