Pictured launching PwC's report 'Transitioning to a low carbon energy system' are (l-r): Kim McClenaghan, Director, PwC Advisory Energy & Utility Practice and report Author; Seán Kyne, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment; Feargal O'Rourke, Managing Partner, PwC; and Owen Wilson, Chief Executive, Electricity Association of Ireland.
A new roadmap to address the challenges of climate change
The PwC report, Transitioning to a low carbon energy system, examines how Ireland might achieve its 2050 low-carbon objective while significantly reducing energy imports.
The report, commissioned by EAI, is optimistic about finding an economically viable way to meeting Ireland’s emissions reductions targets in the long term. Focusing on proven, cost-effective technologies, it sets out a roadmap to address the following questions:
- What are the most appropriate low-carbon technologies for Ireland?
- How can this transition be achieved with societal acceptance and genuinely engaged consumers?
- When is the appropriate time to transition away from coal and peat for power generation and what is the alternative fuel source?
- What form of policy is required to drive this transition?
- What sector can most cost-effectively contribute to meeting our 2050 targets?
The PwC roadmap details a least-cost path to achieving Ireland’s decarbonisation targets, that would see a 92% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (vs 1990 levels) from the electricity sector, an 80% reduction from the heat sector and a 94% reduction in the transport sector.
The roadmap also takes into account key features of the energy system specific to Ireland including our island status and current reliance on imported fossil fuels.
Security of supply is given prominence in selecting future technologies. The report notes that, while at this juncture it is not possible to know the terms of the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU, all of our existing electricity interconnection is with the UK and all our imported gas comes via the UK transmission system.
The report recommends that Ireland’s policy system should implement four fundamental macro-level changes to enable the successful transition to a low carbon economy:
- The Government should establish a system of continually reducing mandatory carbon budgets
- Policy makers should focus on achieving one common goal of emissions reductions across sectors and recognise that this can only be realised via a suite of complementary and not competing policy objectives
- Policy makers should identify the range of measures that deliver the most cost-effective abatement return for consumers, and
- The policy system must ensure the alignment and integration of energy policy, infrastructure planning, capital investment frameworks and energy regulation.
EAI's motivation for commissioning this report was the increasing urgency with which practical measures need to be adopted given the certainty of the science, the legally binding GHG reduction obligations in place and the escalating costs of delays.
The report is designed to assist policy makers and stakeholders in navigating the island of Ireland’s energy transition. We encourage those in the industry, government and the general public to consider this report as an aid to finding an economically viable pathway towards meeting Ireland’s emissions reductions targets in the long term.
Sean Kyne T.D, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment has welcomed the report.