I thank the Chairman and members for the invitation to present an outline of our Vision 2050 strategy.
Addressing climate change is a key priority for our business. Ireland’s natural gas network can play a major role in decarbonising our society, while still maintaining the security and cost-effectiveness of our energy supply. While natural gas emits nearly one sixth of Ireland's emissions, through a combination of technologies, we will create a carbon-neutral gas network and reduce Ireland's total CO2 emissions by one third across key sectors, including electricity, industry, heat, transport and agriculture. This will be achieved by using proven technologies such as renewable gas, compressed natural gas, CNG, carbon capture and storage, CCS, and hydrogen. Our goal is that by 2050 half of the gas on Ireland’s gas network will be renewable gas and hydrogen. The other half will be abated gas, which is where carbon dioxide has been removed through the CCS process, preventing emissions from entering the atmosphere.
We have been on a journey developing a range of initiatives to reduce Ireland’s carbon footprint and to ensure that Ireland has indigenous and sustainable energy solutions for a number of years. This decarbonisation journey has become even more significant with the publication of the Government's climate action plan, which sets out an ambitious trajectory to address climate disruption over the coming years. We have started delivering on our vision. Renewable gas, for example, was successfully injected into our network for the first time earlier this year. Planning for the first full-scale renewable gas facility in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, is under way. This project will provide renewable gas for 56,000 homes or 8% of Ireland’s residential gas demand.
The opening of Ireland's first public CNG refuelling station in December 2018 marked another important milestone in our plan. CNG offers an immediate reduction of more than 20% in CO2 emissions when compared to diesel and will facilitate the introduction of renewable gas into transport, offering a fully decarbonised transport fuel. With a further six CNG stations currently in construction and development, our ambition is to ultimately have a network of 172 public and private stations.
We are fulfilling our role under the climate action plan to explore the feasibility of CCS in Ireland. We are providing key support to the Government’s CCS steering group and we recently signed a memorandum of understanding with CCS technology leaders Equinor in Norway to explore carbon export and storage options. Hydrogen, the fourth pillar of Vision 2050, is fast becoming the decarbonisation fuel of choice around the world. With zero emissions, hydrogen is an extremely flexible energy source that can be deployed across transport, heating and electricity generation. We see hydrogen as an exciting opportunity for Ireland, especially in light of its potential to act as an energy store to maximise the utilisation of renewable electricity.
The Irish State has invested more than €2.6 billion in Ireland's gas network, which is one of the safest and most modern gas networks in the world. The network has effectively no capacity constraints and it can be used to facilitate renewable energies, including renewable gas and hydrogen. We believe that the gas network has a long-term role to play in meeting our nation's energy demand and that Ireland cannot achieve its climate ambitions without it. As an energy source, natural gas is of key strategic importance to Ireland, representing 30% of our country's primary energy mix. Importantly, approximately 50% of Ireland’s electricity is generated by natural gas. The Climate Change Advisory Council's recent statement to the Government highlighted the importance of natural gas. If we are to decarbonise the Irish economy by 2050, there will be a need for significant deployment of carbon capture and storage, CCS, with natural gas as a component of Ireland's energy system. This view is aligned with Vision 2050.
We are strong advocates of renewable energy and believe that climate action and future energy policy will require a suite of technologies and renewable solutions. A move to a 70% reliance on renewable sources such as wind and solar for electricity generation is planned by 2030 as part of ambitious national climate action targets. However, while Ireland has excellent renewable energy sources and potential, including wind and solar sources, this renewable energy is intermittent and needs the reliability of gas to facilitate its development. Achieving these targets will require a significant reliance on gas-powered electricity generation to provide the balance of requirements and to ensure Ireland has a secure energy supply at all times. Our vision is a carbon-neutral gas network and it is through CCS and other technologies that this will be achieved.
In conclusion, Vision 2050 outlines the role that the gas network and key technologies such as renewable gas, compressed natural gas, CCS and hydrogen will play in tackling climate change, while also ensuring that Ireland has a sustainable, affordable and secure energy future. The combination of these technologies will result in a carbon-neutral gas network by 2050 and the reduction in Ireland’s overall CO2 emissions by one third. We are committed to working with Government and policymakers across all sectors to ensure we maximise the contribution this State-owned asset can make to reducing Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions while also maintaining sustainable energy solutions in the least disruptive and most cost-effective way. I look forward to the committee's questions.