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Ireland will not meet 2020 renewable energy targets

Ireland will not meet its 2020 renewable energy targets, with 90% of energy still sourced from fossil fuels.

A report issued by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) shows that Ireland is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

It says that 2017 was a record year for renewables on the Irish electricity grid but the country is still lagging behind where it needs to be to achieve the targets set out under the EU's Renewable Energy Directive.

Ireland has committed to sourcing 16% of its total energy from renewable sources by 2020. The SEAI report shows that at the end of 2017, just 10.6% of energy consumed in Ireland came from renewables.

Ireland was 22nd of the EU-28 for overall renewable energy share and 26th for progress towards its 2020 renewable energy targets, with only the Netherlands and Luxembourg faring worse. It performed better in terms of renewable electricity (13th) and renewable transport energy (18th).

The report states that it is 'clear' that Ireland will be unable to meet its targets, potentially leaving the country open to substantial fines. Climate experts had previously estimated that missing the target of 16% could result in fines of approximately €600 million. In 2018, then-Minister for Climate Action Denis Naughten claimed it would be much lower.

"We need to make progress in all areas of energy use and rapidly increase the adoption of renewables across heating and transport if we are serious about reducing Ireland’s carbon emissions," said Jim Gannon, CEO of SEAI.

"A transition to a largely electrified passenger fleet, along with the consideration of alternative fuels such as biogas and hydrogen for commercial, public transport and freight are necessary in decarbonising our transport system."

Communications Minister Richard Bruton said the all-of-government Climate Plan to be published shortly "will show a range of actions across sectors of society with clear timelines. Our focus will be on implementation and lifting Ireland’s ambition".