Ireland up for the challenge: decarbonisation, electrification, competition and governance

On Tuesday 18 September, Cornwall Insight Ireland hosted its Navigating I-SEM event. Dara Lynott, CEO of The Electricity Association of Ireland (EAI) gave a keynote speech, presented below, in which he highlighted four areas that will be key as Ireland transitions to the new Integrated Single Electricity Market (I-SEM): decarbonisation, electrification, competition within the market and governance.


To transition to a decarbonised electricity sector by 2050 Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions must be net zero. This is absolutely critical. A decarbonised electricity system will decarbonise society and move transport and heating away from fossil fuels. And this absolutely makes sense for an island.

In Ireland we have a huge ambition, stated in our national policy, of an 80% emissions reduction by 2050. But, as an island we are so reliant on imported fuels, have a unique composition given the importance of agriculture and have low to moderate levels of interconnection that may or may not improve in the future given some of the governance issues that we are dealing with in terms of the North of Ireland. We have the second highest penetration of wind in Europe, which is an advantage, but there is no roadmap that we can copy – we can’t rely on nuclear or new large-scale sources of hydro coming on the system like other continental countries can, for example.

So, while the electricity sector has provided 52% of overall reductions for the country since 2000, for us to decarbonise will require agriculture, transport and the built environment to do some of the heavy lifting. On the policy front we also have no clear pathway to carbon capture and storage (CCS) at the moment, which will be key if we are to decarbonise, and the pathway to renewable gas must also be considered given that 52% of our power uses gas for generation.