The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) work closely with my Department and present a comprehensive overview of energy supply and demand in Ireland to inform Government policy. As part of their work, the SEAI publishes an annual “Energy in Ireland ” Report which presents national energy statistics on energy production and consumption over a set period. The latest available Report is the 2017 Report which covers the period 1990-2016. The 2018 Report, covering 1990-2017, is expected to be published in December this year.
The Report shows that Ireland has a high import dependence on oil and gas and is essentially a price taker on these commodities. However in 2016 Ireland’s energy import bill fell by €1.2 billion because of a reduction in fossil fuel imports. While most of this reduction in fossil fuel imports was due to a reduction in natural gas imports thanks to the Corrib gas field reaching full production the contribution of renewables avoided 3.9 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and saved €342 million in fossil fuel imports. The use of renewables in electricity generation in 2016 avoided €192 million in fossil fuel imports with the provisional saving for 2017 at €276 million.
THE SEAI have also modelled the impact that meeting our renewable electricity targets will have on the Irish economy. Their analysis presents the net new direct jobs (from technology installations), indirect jobs (created in supply chains), induced jobs (from increased consumption), and jobs linked to increased investment in capital stock in the year 2020. Their analysis identified that renewable electricity generation (primarily onshore wind) has a positive impact on the Irish economy and net employment by 2020 with a total of 4,400 net jobs created in 2020. These include over 2,000 direct jobs in construction related to onshore wind with over 500 ongoing direct jobs in operations and maintenance. The remaining jobs are in the supply chain and as a result of higher expenditure in the wider economy. The analysis further suggests that GDP could increase by between €305-€585 million as a result of building new wind farms and the expansion of the electricity grid, by 2020.