The proposed All-government Plan to Tackle Climate Change Disruption is a bold plan, in particular the plan to require 70% of electricity supply from renewable resources by 2030 is ambitious.

Based on 30% of Ireland’s electricity currently being generated from renewable resources, the move to 70% will reduce the CO2e emissions for electricity generation from the present 0.427 kg CO2e/kWh to 0.187 kg CO2e/kWh.  This is a lower level of emissions than for natural gas.

Electric space and water heating can be cost effective in certain applications, for example the use of electric point of use under sink water heaters negates wasteful long runs of hot water pipes.  With the planned much lower CO2 emissions from electricity from 2030, the environmental case for wider use of electricity is much strengthened. The question is how do energy professionals make a stronger case for use of lower emissions energy sources.

Currently, many energy professionals (myself included) are working with non SMEs on energy audits as required by the EU Energy Efficiency Directive.  This directive is focused on identifying cost effective energy saving measures driving significant net cost savings. Thus the directive is focused on energy savings in terms of kWh and money, but not emissions. This is apparent in the UK Guidance for ESOS (the equivalent of the Irish EAS scheme). The guidance suggests that only the annual energy (in kWh) and financial savings are calculated and presented for board sign off. This misses an opportunity to push climate change up the corporate agenda.

A better approach has been taken by the EPA. Sites with licences from the EPA are usually required to undertake an energy audit.  One of the EPA’s stipulations is that CO2 savings (in tonnes CO2) have to reported for each saving opportunity identified. Further, the capital cost per tonne of annual CO2 emissions savings also has to be reported. This allows the saving opportunities to be ranked by order of cost effectiveness of CO2 reduction. It is a great pity that the EU Energy Efficiency Directive does not require this.

Reporting of the carbon reduction should be included in any energy report alongside cost and energy savings. This will allow socially responsible companies to better evaluate the worth of energy reduction measures. It will also allow the evaluation of the future effects of higher carbon taxes.

The author, Bob Sutcliffe, is a Certified Energy Manager and a registered energy auditor under the Irish EAS and UK ESOS schemes. For all environmental monitoring enquiries, contact Bob at