The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland has said Ireland is facing a significant and urgent challenge to reduce the use of fossil fuels, which still account for over 90% of all the energy use here.

In its latest report, the SEAI says despite a record level of wind energy last year, Ireland still has a considerable way to go to meet its renewable energy targets for 2020.

Last year, thanks to the operation of the Corrib gas field, domestically-produced gas in Ireland was at its highest level ever, equivalent to almost five million tonnes of imported oil.

The amount of electricity generated by wind turbines also hit record levels - as high as 72% on one occasion during April, with wind alone saving €278m in fossil fuel imports.

The result was a dramatic fall in the requirement to import our energy, down to 66% from 88% two years ago.

Yet the SEAI says Ireland still faces huge and urgent challenges.

As the economy expands, energy demand is continuing to grow.

Transport dominates, accounting for 43% of energy used in Ireland and rising.

Total mileage by private cars here is now over 35 billion kilometres per year, a 52% increase since the year 2000.

SEAI Chief Executive Jim Gannon said we need a rapid transition from diesel and petrol to electric vehicles.

He said Ireland is well suited to electric cars and we must make sure that it is considered to be a real option for the majority of new car purchases from now on.