EPA Welcomes IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources

Date released: May 10 2011

IPCC report shows massive untapped potential of renewable energy

10th May 2011:  The EPA welcomes publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Renewable Energy sources and Climate Change mitigation (SRREN). 

The report shows that global potential for renewable energy is substantially higher than both current and projected future global energy demand. This is the case globally and in most regions of the world.

Currently less than 3 per cent of the globally available renewable energy is being used. This means that more than 97 per cent is untapped.  Realising this resource would be a major step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy.  The report projects that 80 percent of the world’s energy supply could be met by renewable sources by 2050 if enabling policies are put in place.
Commenting on the report Dr Mary Kelly, EPA Director General said,

“This is a timely report given the choices we need to make on energy investment, here in Ireland, in Europe and internationally.  It shows the potential of renewable energy technologies to provide energy solutions which also have wider economic, social and environmental benefits, including their potential to cut air pollution and improve public health, and increase energy security.”

The six renewable energy technologies reviewed are: bioenergy, direct solar energy, geothermal energy, hydropower, ocean and wind energy.
The report states that the cost of most renewable energy technologies has declined. Some renewable energy technologies are already economically competitive.

Technical advancements are expected to further reduce costs. Increasing the share of renewables requires additional short-term and long-term integration efforts. There is a need for advanced technologies to optimize the infrastructure capacity for renewable an area in which Ireland has active research.

The IPCC report notes that enabling policies and measures are required to ensure rapid deployment of many renewable sources. Research is also required to overcome technical barriers. The deployment of renewable energy will benefit from testing centres for demonstration projects.   

Two experts from Ireland were lead authors for this IPCC report.  Professor Tony Lewis of the Hydraulics & Maritime Research Centre, University College Cork and Professor Mark O’ Malley of University College Dublin.  Commenting on the report, Professor Tony Lewis said;

“Geographically Ireland is in an excellent position to benefit from renewable energy. Our wind and ocean resources in particular are amongst the best in the world. Ireland is making important investments in ocean energy research which will enable us to use this enormous potential. This can lead to a new energy industry with the potential to create a large number of jobs.”


Ireland’s Renewable Resources

Ireland is committed to the deployment of renewable energy and aims to reach the European Commission target of 20 per cent of its total energy mix by 2020.  Ireland is also implementing its National Renewable Energy Action Plan which all Member States were required to submit in 2010. This plan sets out how we intend to reach EU wide renewable energy targets.

Currently, the majority of Ireland’s renewable energy is generated using onshore wind with a small contribution from offshore.  Bioenergy is a growing area through the establishment of bioenergy crops such as miscanthus and rapeseed oils as well as traditional forestry biomass. In the agricultural sector, technologies such as biomethane generation from grass and anaerobic digestion of farm and food wastes have the potential to play a key part in mitigating emissions from this sector.  There are proposals in place for a state of the art research test bed in Belmullet for wave energy test site in Belmullet. Irish companies such as WaveBob Ltd and Ocean Hydro have already gained international attention for the potential of their technology.

Laura Burke, EPA Director said, 

“For its part, the EPA is committed to the use of renewable energy technologies. Our headquarters building in Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford has the largest array of photovoltaic panels in the country. Wood chip boilers are installed at some of our inspectorates and a number of our site inspection vehicles are also powered using rape seed oil which is produced in Ireland.”


European Solar Energy Days

On Wednesday 11th May 2001, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s Renewable Energy Information Office (SEAI REIO) is hosting an event dedicated to solar energy as part of European Solar Days.  This event aims to promote the advantages of harnessing the energy of the sun and takes place at EPA Headquarters, Johnstown Castle, Wexford.  Leading solar experts will speak and share their expertise and experiences with delegates who will be offered an invaluable and in-depth understanding of the key principles and techniques in designing, installing and maintaining solar projects, as well as learning how solar energy can provide cost effective and ecological building solutions in Ireland.

Further information: Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours)

Editor’s Notes:

View the SRREN report details.

IPCC: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. The UN General Assembly endorsed the action by WMO and UNEP in jointly establishing the IPCC.
The IPCC is a scientific body. It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters.

Carbon capture and Storage: The EPA and SEAI in conjunction with the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland prepared an all island storage report which outlined the potential for CCS in the island of Ireland. 

Bioenergy Geographic Information System: The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has developed a Bioenergy Geographic Information System (GIS). The bioenergy GIS provides spatially visualised access to bioenergy supply and demand information in Ireland, as well as some tools for assessing actual bioenergy supply in a user specified area; and assessing the potential for energy crop development in a user specified area. It is intended to develop this GIS into a far more powerful tool for bioenergy over time.