IrBEA launches Transport in Ireland Report: A Pathway to Halving Emissions

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The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) has published “Transport in Ireland: A Pathway to Halving Emissions – Meeting ambitious emissions reduction in Ireland’s Transport sector and the role of Sustainable Bioenergy”. This report was developed by UCC MaREI on behalf of IrBEA.

The report clearly shows that Ireland has a clear pathway to halve its emissions from Transport through the introduction of a combination of policy interventions and measures including electrification, increased biofuels blending, biomethane and driver efficiency measures. There is no single solution to decarbonising our Transport sector but by utilising a combination of different fuels, technologies and driving efficiency measures, emissions from our Transport sector can be halved by 2030.

Speaking at the launch of the report Paddy Phelan, President of IrBEA, said: “This report shows how the renewable transport sector must play a significant part in delivering on the Government’s CO2 emissions reduction ambition set out in the 2021 National Climate Action Plan”.

“This report developed by Dr Paul Deane and his team at UCC MaREI is a call to action for the Government and to recognise the strong role of sustainable bioenergy. Bioenergy including bioliquids (Ethanol, Biodiesel and HVO) and biogas/biomethane, as an indigenous, locally sourced energy source can deliver large emissions reductions across the Transport sector in Ireland”.

The report identifies a diverse range of decarbonisation options and policy interventions required from Government to deliver a 51% reduction in Transport emissions including:

  • Delivering on the Government stated ambition of over 940,000 electric vehicles in 2030, avoiding approximately 2 Million Tonnes of CO2.
  • Increasing the blend rate of sustainable bioliquids on petrol and diesel (minimum of 10% ethanol and 12% biodiesel) as per the Climate Action Plan avoids an additional 0.4 Million Tonnes of CO2. noting that early action is key to delivering higher cumulative emissions savings.
  • Efficiency and behavioural measures that reduce surface transport fuel consumption by 17% by 2030 as per the climate Action Plan 2019 avoids 4.7 Million Tonnes of CO2.
  • Targeting 5 TWh of Indigenous Biomethane production (3% of land area) for use in heavy transport avoids approximately 1 Million Tonnes of CO2.
  • Targeting 2 TWh of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils (HVO) avoids approximately 0.4 Million Tonnes of CO2. Note: Sweden increased the blending of HVO with diesel from 0 TWh in 2011 to 14 TWh in 2018.

Report Author, Dr Paul Deane of UCC MaREI, said: “This report provides policy and decision-makers with a roadmap on how we dramatically reduce emissions from our Transport sector through the use of renewable energy resources, having a big impact on addressing our climate challenge.

“The analysis we’ve conducted demonstrates that a 35% renewables in Transport ambition can make a direct contribution to Ireland’s 51% target in greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2030.”

James Cogan, IrBEA Transport Subgroup lead added: “Ireland is in the grip of a severe crisis where transport climate action is concerned.  Emissions are actually increasing,  halving emissions by 2030 means halving diesel and petrol use by 2030.  Solutions need to be acceptable to the public, cost effective and compatible with how people live their lives.  Sustainable biofuels already save over half a million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, and that contribution could be doubled or more by 2030.”

Seán Finan, CEO of the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) concluded: “We are delighted to launch this report and thank Dr Paul Deane and his team at UCC MaREI for their work. We call on Minister Ryan and the Government to adopt and implement the proposals, ambition and measures outlinedin this report. We call for the immediate ramp up of supports, policy interventions for renewable transport and particularly sustainable bioenergy measures. We want to see enhanced Government recognition of the role sustainable bioenergy including bioliquids and biomethane can play to transition the Transport sector away from fossil fuels. The recently published Climate Action Plan has yet to determine measures to remove a further 4 million tonnes of carbon emissions. Increasing the deployment and ambition for bioenergy in Transport through the Biofuels Obligation Scheme is an obvious choice.”

Some Key numbers in the Report:

  • In 2020, biofuel delivered an 84% reduction in carbon on a per energy unit basic compared to fossil fuels.
  • Biofuels make up 5% of total road energy consumption in 2020.
  • Biofuels avoided approximately 520,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2020.
  • Sustainable biofuels make up 98% of renewable energy in Transport in Ireland. The remaining 2% is electricity.
  • Less than 1% of consumption in road transport were from crop based fuels. The EU average is 4%.
  • 68% of all biofuels in Ireland are from used cooking oil while 15% were from animal fats (Tallow).
  • 33% of raw materials to make biofuels were imported from China with 14% of raw materials sourced from Ireland
  • SEAI estimates that Bioenergy potential equals 30% of the energy use today.
  • All fuels met sustainability requirements in accordance with the Biofuels Obligation Scheme.
  • Sustainable bioliquids are cost competitive.
  • The current cost per unit of carbon avoided is €250 – €350 per tonne of CO2 for battery electric vehicles and higher for Plug in Hybrids compared to estimates of values between €110 – €280 per tonne of carbon avoided for bioliquids and biomethane.
  • Renewable energy in Transport should increase from 4% today to 35% in 2030 to deliver government ambition.
  • Indigenous biomethane is an untapped resource that can reduce emissions in transport by 1 million tonnes while advancing emissions reduction in both agriculture and land use.
  • In Ireland, over 35 billion kilometres were driven by private cars in 2018.