A new report suggests that a Net-Zero Energy System for Ireland is possible by 2050 while the new system will also be cost-effective.
The new system also has the potential to create more than 50,000 jobs, the report from MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine, hosted by University College Cork - on behalf of Wind Energy Ireland - says.
MaRE said its "Our Climate Neutral Future: Zeroby50" report is a call to action for the Government and for every level of Irish society.
It sets out the country's decarbonisation pathway to becoming truly energy independent and to deliver warmer homes, cleaner air and thousands of new jobs.
The report identifies three key "no-regret"' options which must be aggressively pursued by the Government.
- Energy efficiency first - making society energy efficient must be the country's first principle. The barriers to retrofitting homes and using more energy efficient technology must be eliminated, while investment is required to rapidly train the skilled workers we will need.
- Electrification - Electricity, not oil, must become the backbone of the Irish energy system. Every form of transport or heating that can be electrified, must be, as quickly as possible.
- More renewables faster - Renewable energy projects like wind farms - both on and offshore - and solar farms must be developed far more quickly, along with and sustainable bioenergy, to fully decarbonise the energy system.
Dr Paul Deane, the report's lead author, said it is the country's blueprint to a cleaner future.
He said it demonstrates that producing our own renewable energy in Ireland delivers benefits beyond climate action in terms of employment, warmer homes, cleaner transport and reduces our reliance on imported fossil fuel to near zero.
Dr David Connolly, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland, said the country has the technology, the resources, the skills and the investment to create a net-zero energy system in this country within 30 years.
"We can decarbonise our energy system while building a new foundation for the Irish economy. This report shows how we deliver the Climate Action Bill, launched last week, and make the Government's 2050 vision a reality," Dr Connolly said.
"But it can only happen with an unprecedented mobilisation across every level of Irish society and a shared commitment to a cleaner, brighter, energy future," he added.
Welcoming the report, the Minister for Environment, Climate Action and Communications Eamon Ryan said that the country has set a national climate objective to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
"In the coming months we will develop a new Climate Action Plan to set out how we will achieve this. Today's report from the MaREI Centre and Wind Energy Ireland is an important and valuable contribution to the debate," Mr Ryan said.
"It shows not only how we can decarbonise but how we can do so in a way that builds our economy and delivers a cleaner, more sustainable and secure future for us all," he added.