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Monday 20 March 2023 Dublin: 13°C
Shutterstock/I AM NIKOM
# Home heating
'Early and urgent action' needed to reduce heat-related emissions in Ireland, SEAI says
A new study said that heat pumps play a “crucial role” in decarbonising homes, businesses and industry in Ireland.

HEAT PUMPS NEED to be widely used as part of the effort to rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions from heating homes and other buildings, a new report has said. 

38% of Ireland’s energy-related emissions in 2020 came from heating, a National Heat Study has outlined.

A number of new reports from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) outline that reducing heating emissions is a “difficult challenge”.

The authority said its study findings stress the need for “early and urgent action” to reduce heating emissions. 

A higher uptake of heat pumps “plays a significant role in all scenarios modelled” in the SEAI study. 

“Importantly the scenario with the lowest cumulative CO2 emissions sees significant and rapid uptake of this technology.”

Heat-related emissions are still rising despite many homes and businesses insulating, installing heat pumps and putting in solar panels. 

This trend of rising emissions since 2014 when the economy improved “must be reversed immediately if the heat sector is to meet its share of the required emissions reductions”, a summary report said. 

The SEAI further said its study highlights the “absolute necessity” of acting as soon as possible and using available technologies to reduce heat emissions. 

Under the government’s Climate Action Plan, overall greenhouse gas emissions must reduce by 51% by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050. 

Reducing and “ultimately removing” fossil fuels from heating is “central” to reaching these requirements, Climate Minister Eamon Ryan said. 

“Ireland’s heat has the lowest percentage of renewable energy of any European country. From this low base we can learn from other countries that are well on the way to achieving zero carbon heating,” he said in a statement. 

“It’s clear that fast deployment of existing solutions plays a key role. However, new-to-Ireland technologies like district heating will play a large role in the decarbonisation of our heat sector.”

The government plans to install 400,000 heat pumps by 2030 under current plans. 

A new retrofitting grant scheme was announced last week aimed to make it simpler and more affordable for people to install heat pumps and undertake other retrofitting measures. 

The SEAI said heat pumps have a “crucial role in decarbonising buildings” and that more policy support is needed to drive uptake and prevent cost being a barrier for homeowners.  

Other soutions

District heating is another technology offering “significant potential”, the SEAI said. 

District heating systems create a local heating grid which delivers lower-emission heat to buildings. 

The SEAI study said that up to half of building heating in Ireland could be provided through this system. 

The heat can be supplied using waste heat from industry or electricity generation, geothermal sources or heat pumps, the SEAI said. 

The report also looks at other future options such as green hydrogen which the SEAI said is a potential large-scale solution, but as it is unlikely to be widely used within the next decade it plays a smaller role in rapidly decarbonising heating. 

SEAI CEO William Walsh said building upgrades need to be focused on supporting an early switch away from fossil fuel heat sources towards more sustainable technologies. 

It was reported earlier today that gas demand increased by 10% last month in one of the highest demands in over a decade. 

The SEAI heat study is described as the most comprehensive assessments ever conducted on the heat energy sector in Ireland. 

It was released in the form of eight technical reports and a summary report. 

The reports focused on a number of areas including heating and cooling energy demand, electricity infrastructure, carbon capture and storage and sustainable bioenergy for heat. 

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