The SEAI’s annual Energy in Ireland report revealed that although Ireland’s energy import dependency is still high at 88%, renewable energy grew to 6.4% of Ireland’s final energy use, reducing Ireland’s fossil fuel imports by an estimated €300m (£242m) last year.

The report also showed annual Irish energy use fell by 6.4% in 2011 against economic growth of 1.4%.

Launching the report the chief executive of SEAI, Brian Motherway said: “2011 was a record year for renewables in Ireland, in particular wind energy. This brought a number of benefits, most notably a reduction in our natural gas imports worth almost €300m, and avoided emissions of 3.6 million tonnes of CO2.”

“While penetration of renewables continues, our fossil fuel import bill was still €6bn in 2011, with oil accounting for three quarters of that. This is money leaving the country and our economy. This brings into sharp focus the continued imperative for greater energy efficiency and an accelerated move away from fossil fuels,” added Motherway.

The report also states that energy use per household when corrected for the variation in weather is down 16% since 2007 and average CO2 emissions from new cars is down 22% since the introduction of emissions-based taxation, which is below the EU target set for car manufacturers by 2015.

Motherway said: “We have seen a steady fall in energy use across the economy. While there are many factors at play, there are encouraging signs that the improving energy efficiency of our homes and cars are playing a part in reducing energy demand.

“Driven by the need to minimise their energy bills, homeowners are increasingly aware of the benefits of energy efficiency. To date 150,000 homes have availed of energy upgrades through the Government’s Better Energy Homes scheme,” he added.

Leigh Stringer

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