Ireland's decarbonisation trilemma

Transitioning to a clean energy economy requires a balance between sustainability, security and affordability. Leveraging existing energy assets such as the national gas network will be key.

The challenge for Ireland

Ireland has committed to radically decarbonising its energy system by 2050 and to making substantial progress within the next decade. As it stands, the country is not on course to achieve its short or long-term climate goals. As we move toward 2050 this will become even more difficult.

Key challenges to Ireland’s low carbon transition

  • Demand

    Energy has and is forecast to continue to increase as the population and economy grows.

  • Agriculture

    Agriculture is the biggest source of Ireland's emissions and decarbonising this sector is very challenging.

  • Emissions

    Ireland must significantly increase its renewable energy to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy.

Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions

Agriculture is the biggest source of overall emissions at 33% followed by transport at 20%.

Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Electricity Generation18
ETS Industrial Heat6
ETS Industrial Processes3
ETS Other1
Non ETS Agriculture33
Non ETS Transport20
Non ETS Heat15
Non ETS Other4

The role of the gas network

Ireland’s €2.7bn, 14,664km national gas network is one of the safest and most modern networks in the world. It is the cornerstone of Ireland’s energy system, reliably providing 30% of primary energy, 40% of heating and 50% of electricity generation. Over 706,000 Irish homes and businesses trust gas for heating, cooking and transport.

By gradually replacing natural gas with renewable gases, such as biomethane and hydrogen, the gas network can substantially reduce the country’s carbon emissions across a number of key sectors while complementing intermittent renewable electricity and ensuring a secure energy supply.

What the gas network offers

Cornerstone or Ireland’s energy mix

The national gas network reliably provides 30% of primary energy, 40% of heating and 50% of electricity generation. Over 706,000 Irish homes and businesses trust gas to provide for their heating, cooking and transport needs.

Immediate emissions reductions

Natural gas emits 40% less CO2 than coal and 22% less CO2 than oil. Replacing these fuels with natural gas in heating, industry, transport and electricity generation provides immediate emissions reductions.

Ready-made decarbonisation solution

Biomethane is fully compatible with the existing gas network, technology and appliances. As the volume of biomethane on the network increases, those connected to the national gas network will increasingly reduce their carbon footprint without changing a thing.

Energy security and diversity

The gas network is key to Ireland’s energy security. Replacing natural gas with sustainable and domestically produced biomethane and hydrogen, will further enhance Ireland’s energy security and diversity, providing an essential back up for intermittent renewable electricity sources. The energy storage capacity of the gas network is unique meaning gases can be stored until needed.

Reliable partner for renewable electricity

When the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, the national gas network ensures the lights stay on and our devices are powered. At times, gas supplies as much as 85% of the country’s electricity, with essential services and health facilities relying on the security of gas-generated electricity.