Energy and Environment Review 2010

Out now

The Energy and Environment Review 2010 is the third in a series of annual reports published by the Economic and Social Research Institute, discussing trends in resource use and emissions to the environment as well as policies to change those trends. The key findings are as follows:

  • While emissions of most persistent organic pollutants are expected to fall between 2010 and 2025, emissions from households of PCBs to air and of dioxins to land and air, and particularly emissions of hexachlorocarbons to air from agriculture are projected to increase. To avoid this, additional policy interventions would be required.
  • Our estimates of the amount of methane from landfill differ from the official estimates, suggesting that international emission reduction obligations are less severe than they seem to be.
  • On average, firms spend 0.3% of their turnover on environmental protection and 0.7% of their investment is directed towards environmental care. More than three-quarters of firms spend no money at all on environmental care, but some firms spend up to 1.5% of turnover or 7% of investment.
  • It is expected that wind power will account for two-fifths of power generation by 2020, replacing coal and peat. After 2020, coal may well return to the fuel mix, with or without technically risky and expensive carbon capture and storage. Carbon dioxide emissions in 2025 would be 2.6 million tonnes higher without carbon capture and storage.
  • A large share of electricity is expected to come from renewable energy. The use of biofuels in transport can be expanded but this may face economic and environmental objections. In other sectors, the use of renewable energy seems to have stalled. It is therefore likely that Ireland will have to import renewable obligations in order to meet its targets.
  • Recent tax reforms have shifted the balance in favour of diesel cars, so that carbon dioxide emissions and tax revenue are lower than what they would have been without tax reform. In the unlikely event that the government meets the target that 10% of all cars be all-electric vehicles, carbon dioxide emissions from transport and power generation would fall by only 1% as all-electric cars primarily displace small cars driven over short distances.
  • Over the last two decades, energy efficiency has rapidly improved in Ireland and the government hopes to accelerate this trend. However, even if current policies are maintained, which seems unlikely given the current fiscal situation, a deceleration is more likely due to sectoral shifts in the economy, less efficient power generation, and export of electricity to Great Britain.
  • Ireland will probably meet its emission reduction obligations under the Kyoto Protocol because of the severe recession. However, at this point the EU target for 2020 seems to be out of Ireland’s reach. Subsidies are more likely to fall than rise, and the announced carbon tax is insufficient for the emission reductions required. Ireland will therefore have to import emission permits from other EU Member States.
  • Incineration will help Ireland to meet its landfill targets in the medium-term, but in the long-term more reform of waste policy is needed. Weight-based charging and three-bin waste collection would be needed (in urban areas) to make the planned increase in the landfill levy effective.

The Energy and Environment Review presents scenarios that consider actual and probable policies but disregard targets that are not supported by such policies.

The energy part of the review should be compared to the SEAI Energy Forecasts.

7 thoughts on “Energy and Environment Review 2010”

  1. We can easily meet the EU target without paying €¼ billion per year+ for permits . . . if we cull every farm animal in the country and scrap all the road vehicles.

    The sensible Oireachtas target (page 27) can be achieved simply by the imposition of an aggressive campaign of compulsory human euthanasia.

    In either case – we won’t be needing any fuel for home heating. What with the global warming we’re suffering and all.

  2. “It is expected that wind power will account for two-fifths of power generation by 2020, replacing coal and peat. ”

    @Richard

    1. What is the projected carbon intensity for power generation in 2020 with wind providing 40% ?

    2. What are the carbon abatement costs ?

    Couldn’t find either in the report.

  3. This is a useful contribution to the policy debate. I expect a considerable amount of time and effort was expended in compiling this report. But I suspect I expect an equivalent, if not greater, amount of time and effort was expended in reviewing, revising and redrafting the report so that it could get its (non-attributable) ESRI badge and to avoid including anything that might cause those funding the Energy Policy Research Centre to take umbrage.

  4. I agree with Debt Slave that culling farm animals, euthanising people and outlawing road vehilcles is the way to go. I mean we could not, shock, horror, actually tear up the Kyoto agreement as the Japanese themselves have said they would do. I mean those measures or 1/4 billion is a small price for our government to agree to. After all they have agreed bail out the German banks who were foolish enough to inflate the Irish property bubble. The last thing our forelock tugging rulers want to do is leave any brown stuff on the posteriors of our Eurocrat bosses.

  5. @ Richard,

    Saw you on Prime Time earlier tonight. Very good. The problem with these sort of public debates is that most of the time the presenter hasn’t a clue about energy policy, nor has his production team.

    Given the importance of gas to our energy stream it’s extraordinary that no-one mentioned the ongoing Corrib Gas controversy and what the economic impacts are of the consequent delay in the delivery of that particular resource? If the Irish Academy of Engineers are so convinced of their argument that gas is the medium term answer to Ireland’s energy needs how come they didn’t mention the potential Corrib supply or other discoveries off the Irish west coast? Is it because the price for that gas is already set too high comparable to the likely price of shale derived gas?

    Eamon Ryan’s contribution to the debate didn’t impress me. But then, as far as I can see, he’s as near to an ex-TD looking for a job as I know, though the very best of luck to him in his forthcoming electoral endeavours. I’m far more interested in what his succesors in office may decide to do in order to bring environment commitments into line with energy requirements than, with all due respect, anything he has to say about ‘it’s working’ anymore.

    The core point of all this is that Ireland and its political apparatus have some fairly educated guesses to make about an energy policy, with a lifetime of 50-60 years implication, to make in the next four to five years. The Greens had the chance to do this about renewables – with widespread political and media consensus – since they entered government. It remains to be seen what policy the next government will prioritise. But the fact that a programme like Prime Time would dare to question the ‘green energy/green economy’ consensus, albeit in a limited way, is interesting.

  6. @Veronica

    Did you notice the new spin on wind power last night on Prime Time – “wind is a hedge against gas prices” – no mention by CER, Eirgrid or the Minister about carbon emissions, environmental benefits or saving the planet … why is that ???

    @Richard
    Well done – especially liked the reference to supplying wind power to the Chinese ! 🙂

  7. @ veronica

    But the fact that a programme like Prime Time would dare to question the ‘green energy/green economy’ consensus, albeit in a limited way, is interesting.

    A current or prospective client in the field? Do tell.

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