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Ireland's Potential Energy Needs
To assess the potential of renewable sources sustaining Ireland's energy needs in the future, firstly energy trends have to be evaluated to estimate the future requirements. It is impossible to know for sure what the future will hold but by reviewing different forecasts, a reasonable estimate can be made.
1.2 Energy Trends
Energy trends of the past fifteen years will give a good review of Ireland's energy growth. It was within this time that the country experienced significant economic growth which was seen in the energy sector. The amount of energy consumed is shown through the Total Primary Energy Requirement (TPER).
Total Energy Requirement (TER) figures represent the total Irish electricity generation at the plant exported level plus imports, less exports. The TER is the amount of electricity required to meet total final consumption in the Republic of Ireland including an allowance for transmission and distribution losses (Anon 2005).
This figure shows that there was rapidly increasing growth in energy demands in the 90's and in particular, the mid 90's to 2000. It also shows a high dependence on the oil and gas.
1.3 Energy Forecasts
The Government document, All-Island Energy Market: Renewable Electricity - A '2020 Vision'; Preliminary Consultation Document, (Anon 2005), forecasts energy demands by "firstly modifying the 2005 - 2011 median TER values so as to account for generation plant 'house load', and then determining the values for 2012 - 2020 at the assumed growth rates of 3% per annum between 2012 and 2015, and of 2% per annum between 2015 and 2020." This can be clearly seen in Table 3.1. These facts are based on the future for the whole island of Ireland, a joint north and south venture of meeting future energy demands and include Northern Ireland which is discussed in Chapter Six.
The above forecast is not alone in believing that there will be a steady growth, although slightly less over a longer period of time. The report (Howley et al 2006) assumes electricity demand to grow significantly. Table 3.2 from the report shows the predicted growth. The prediction assumes the CO2 costs €15/tonne in 2010 and €30/tonne in 2020.
1.4 Chapter Summary
The past energy trends showed that there has been a constant rise in energy demand and this is reflected in the forecasts. The two different reports predicted to 2020 and show a similar prediction. It can then be assumed that to 2010 a 3.0 - 4.0% increase can be expected and from 2010 - 2020, a lesser 1.0 - 2.0%. The forecast for the generating fuel is predicted through past trends and present economic development, predicting oil to be eliminated by 2010 and gas to dominate. Although renewables are predicted to increase, early forecasts report they will only have a minor impact.