Transport Energy Usage in Ireland

Transport in Ireland has traditionally been a most challenging sector, and still consumes more energy than that used for either heat (space and process) or electricity generation. Importantly, it is almost exclusively dependent on imported oil. But we are seeing encouraging signs of adoption of more energy efficient technologies and consumer choices. Since the introduction in 2008 of a carbon based vehicle taxation scheme, the average CO2 emissions of new private cars in Ireland have fallen by 24%. In 2012 such emissions in Ireland were ranked seventh lowest of the EU-27 countries and are already within the EU target for 2015.

  • Renewable energy in transport (RES-T) reached 2.4% in 2012, or 3.8% when weightings are applied to second generation biofuels. Ireland's target was 3% by 2010 and is 10% by 2020.
  • Transport energy demand, which was responsible for a third of national energy use in Ireland, fell by 5.7% in 2012. Over half of all transport energy supply is from diesel.
  • Transport energy demand in 2012 was 4.2 Mtoe, representing a 27% reduction on 2007 levels, including a 43% reduction in energy use for freight transport.
Transport Final Energy Use by Fuel
Figure 1 Transport Final Energy Use by Fuel

Transport energy use peaked in 2007 at 5,749 ktoe and has been falling since. In 2012 transport energy use fell by 5.7% to 4,195 ktoe. Transport energy use has fallen 27% since the peak in 2007, bringing it back to 2000 levels.

In 2012, diesel and LPG were the only fuels to experience growth with increases of 0.1% and 82% respectively. The increase in LPG, however, should be considered in the context of its very small share of the transport market. Of the oil based fuels, jet kerosene consumption experienced the largest decrease, falling by 16% to 586 ktoe. Kerosene in transport is exclusively used for aviation. Petrol consumption fell by 9.1% to 1,296 ktoe.

Renewables, in the form of biofuels, fell in 2012 by 8% to 85 ktoe mainly as a result of the majority of biodiesel qualifying for double certificates, thereby allowing the obligation to be met with certificates but causing the actual volume of biofuel to fall. In 2011, 58% of the biodiesel used for road transport was eligible for double certificates; this increased to 99% in 2012.

Over the period 1990 to 2012, the biggest shift in the transport market has been from petrol to diesel. While consumption of both fuels has increased, consumption of diesel increased by almost 230% and its overall market share has grown from 33% in 1990 to 53% in 2012.

Specific CO2 Emissions of new cars in Ireland 2000 - 2012
Figure 2 Specific CO2 Emissions of new cars in Ireland 2000 - 2012 (2013 estimated) (Source: Based on Vehicle Registration Unit & Vehicle Certificate Agency data)
Figure 2 shows the change in the weighted average specific CO2 emissions of new cars between 2000 and 2012 with an estimate for 2013. It also shows the effect of the change to the CO2 taxation during 2008 which resulted in the average emissions of new cars falling to 158.2 CO2 g/km. If 2008 is taken in isolation, over the first six months before the changeover, the average emissions for both petrol and diesel cars were approximately at the 2006 level. After the changeover in July, the average emissions fell by 8.6% from 161 CO2 g/km to 147 CO2 g/km with a further drop into 2009 of 1.4% to 144 CO2 g/km.

Between 2000 and 2007 the average CO2 emissions were approximately 166 CO2 g/km for both petrol and diesel. For 2008 as a whole, there was a 3.5% reduction. In 2012 the average emissions were 125 CO2 g/km or 24% below the level prior to the taxation change

For further details on transport energy use in Ireland, please click here to download SEAI's report 'Energy in Transport'.

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