Greater co-ordination needed to achieve a fully sustainable Irish energy system in the future

In Europe and internationally, the energy sector is facing a time of almost unprecedented uncertainty. In addition, the island-of-Ireland has unique challenges arising from its location, demographics and the structure of the all-island economy.

It is now more important than ever that, in facing these challenges, the island leverage all of the expertise and knowledge in the energy sector and beyond to forge an energy policy that can maintain the island’s competitiveness while meeting these extensive challenges.

To achieve a fully sustainable Irish energy system in the future, EAI is calling for:

  • greater co-ordination between Government departments on energy policy issues,
  • a more robust accountability framework with clarity regarding policy objectives and priorities,
  • transparency in reporting and decision making,
  • additional resource for both the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) and the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (DCCAE), and
  • the introduction of an appeals mechanism for both the CRU and the Single Electricity Market (SEM) Committee to ensure confidence in their integrity.

Clarification of the national position on EU negotiations for a 2030 energy and climate framework is also required. Ireland is currently responsible for CO2 emissions from the non-EU Emissions Trading System (non-ETS) only. Companies within the ETS (a cap and trade system) are directly accountable for their own carbon compliance which operates at EU level.

With agriculture making up 30% of GHG emissions in Ireland (compared with an EU-average of 10%) EAI supports the view that decarbonisation of the electricity sector and electrification of the heating and transport sectors is the least cost solution to achievement of energy policy objectives. And urges a move towards a carbon-based metric (by initiating a debate on the relevance of an energy-only metric for energy efficiency) to promote economically efficient investment in low carbon technologies.

Given the island’s relatively isolated location network infrastructure, facilitated and supported by engaged customers, is central to the delivery of a suitable energy system delivery of urgent projects, in particular the North-South Interconnector, is essential.