I think it's more to do with our *SLIGHT* non-compliance with our Kyoto protocol limits. We were allowed 13% increase.
Ireland's performance is pretty bad in this regard, mostly due to a massive economic boom and a rapidly rising population (due to inward migration)
In the same period population went from 3.4 million to 4.25 million.
According to RTE (an Irish public service broadcaster)
This has resulted in a 120% increase in Ireland's CO2 emissions between 1990 and 2001. According to SEI, Ireland's CO2 levels will have risen to 180% of the 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. Under the Kyoto Protocol, Ireland is only permitted to have a 13% increase in CO2 emissions by the end of the decade.
We look like we'll be facing fines in billions of € (or $) as a result.
However, I think somehow there's a bit of concern about the energy supply network too. Our peak demand's predicted to hit new records this winter and it's coming very dangerously close to the peak capacity of the generation system.
ESB and Eirgrid (the network operators) are spending huge amounts of money (billions) upgrading the entire supply system but there has been a major hickup in terms of rolling out new generation capacity.
The government and the EU have been opening up the electricity market for some time now and trying to end the absolute dominance of ESB.
ESB was prevented from building new power plants, as it was already too dominant. The problem was that private companies entering the market weren't building anything remotely near the capacity that was needed. The most logical and cost-effective sollution was for ESB to expand existing plants to boost capacity.
They're now proposing to force ESB to sell off some of its power generation capacity to break it up a little bit thus, introducing more competition.
The other major project is a pair of very large DC interconnectors to the UK across the Irish sea.
500MW each to connect us to the British system and via the British system into Europe.
They're aiming to go to at least 10% wind / hydro / wave / etc and looking into other carbon neutral technologies like biofuels to try and get our power generation into a more kyoto compliant state.
That's being coupled with large grants for installation fo solar panels, heat pumps, high level insulation, and other energy efficienty measures in homes.
Large businesses are also being encouraged to use CHP (Combined Heat and Power) i.e. a small gas turbine to reduce net CO2 emissions. Particularly, during peak hours.
The vast majority of our power (over 94%) is generated by burning fossil fuels - mostly natural gas. There is one large coal buring power plant on the west coast (Money Point) and a couple that either burn oil or switch between gas and oil depending on the costs.
Vast majority of the gas plants are quite efficient and have been upgraded to combined cycle i.e. a gas turbine stage followed by a conventional thermal plant.
But, we've a LONG way to go if we're going to get our emissions under limit.
The other huge problem here is the total over-dependence on cars. Car ownership has and continues to increase rapidly .
Over 90% of passenger and goods movement in Ireland occurs by road which is drastically out sync with our other EU counterparts. Car ownership levels are increasing extremely rapidly from the low side of the European average to a level that is rapidly heading towards US levels. No of cars on the road trippled in under 30 years.
Public transport is generally totally underdeveloped. While the trains, trams and busses are all shiney, high tech and modern. They don't provide anything remotely approaching the service levels in other parts of Europe.
Also, our planning (or lack of) didn't help in that area either. Since the 1960s we've been building sprawling car-friendly public transport-free suburbs. Dublin's sprawling is now reaching epic levels to a stage where absolutely everything has to be done in a car. Commutes to work, kids driven to school / creches, all shopping, buying a newspaper / a liter of milk - all require driving.
So, it's no wonder we're a total CO2 disaster zone!
On the plus side, we've very little heavy industry (if any at all) so, for the most part we've no single big producers of CO2. Which just makes our householders even more of an international disgrace