There are no explicit EU fossil fuel reduction targets. However, there are a number of obligations on Ireland that will lead to a reduction in our reliance on fossil fuels. Under the Renewable Energy Directive, Ireland is required to increase renewable energy to 16% in 2020, with a minimum target of 10% in the transport sector. Energy is consumed across the transport, heating and electricity sectors. At end 2011, we had reached 6.4% of overall energy consumption from renewable sources, a twofold increase from 3.1% in 2006. Our intention is to reach our overall target through 40% renewable electricity, 10% renewable transport and 12% renewable heating, which together amount to 16% of all energy consumption.
This increase in the use of renewables in Ireland will mean less fossil fuel used. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland estimates in its “Energy in Ireland” report, published in November 2012, that there was approximately €300 million in avoided national gas imports from the use of renewable energy in the generation of electricity in 2011. In 2012, 128 million litres of biofuels were used in Ireland, almost five times as much as were used in 2007, and by 2020, it is expected that around 500 million litres of biofuel will replace imported fossil fuels.
Reducing our energy usage will also help to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we consume. The National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) contains 97 actions, each of which will play a part in securing a more sustainable energy future for Ireland. The Plan reaffirms Ireland’s commitment to a 20% energy savings target in 2020 under our EU obligations. The actions outlined in the Plan are projected to realise 34,060 GWh of energy savings in 2020, which is equivalent to a 21.1% saving on the baseline period and, should all the measures in the Plan meet their potential by 2020, it is estimated that a reduction of €2.36 billion in energy expenditure could be realised.