The Government’s commitment to reduce Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions over the longer term is set out in the 2017 National Mitigation Plan, the 2015 Energy White Paper and recently published National Energy and Climate Plan. In the electricity sector, which accounts for less than one fifth of Ireland's overall emissions, we have made good progress and are well on our way to our target of 40% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Ireland's commitment is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector by at least 80% by 2050. As energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are linked, meeting this objective requires a radical transformation of Ireland’s energy system from being predominantly fossil fuel based to a clean, low carbon energy system. As set out in the Energy Policy White Paper, a low-carbon future involves moving away from high-emissions fuels in electricity generation to lower emissions fuels such as gas, and ultimately away from fossil fuels altogether. This policy is fully aligned with EU policy objectives of decarbonisation in the electricity sector.
On the way to achieving this low-carbon future, it is settled policy that Moneypoint will cease burning coal by 2025, and the three peat-fired electricity generating stations in th Midlands will cease burning peat before 2030. All three plants have been awarded support for biomass combustion under the REFIT3 Scheme for up to 30% of the installed capacity up to 2030. Bord na Móna commenced co-firing at its Edenderry Plant with biomass in 2008, and it is expected that ESB will commence co-firing at its 2 peat fired plants with biomass in 2020, subject to the plants receiving planning permission.
In relation to electricity generating stations being restricted in the past twelve months on the basis of their levels of GHG emissions, all fossil fuel based stations participate under the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which is a system designed to reduce emissions and provides a strong incentive to decarbonise the manner in which these installations produce electricity. EU ETS carbon prices have been on average over €20 per tonne since August 2018. As the carbon price rises even further, these installations become less economically viable, and incentivises companies to move to lower GHG emitting technologies, including renewable generation.