'Ireland's Microgeneration Support Programme was established in 2008 with an allocation of €2 million to identify the potential and establish the necessary infrastructure for small and micro-scale wind, solar and hydro in the domestic and commercial sectors'
On the basis of energy usage per dwelling in 2006, Ireland was 27% above the average for the UK, and in 2005, was 36% above the EU-27 average. Ireland's residential sector is responsible for 23% of total final energy consumption, the second largest energy sector after transport. Less than 50% of the current housing stock was built before the first thermal insulation requirements were established in 1979. The most common house type is the detached house, at 43% of the total. According to the European Housing Review 2008, Ireland has the youngest dwelling stock in the EU.
The number of private households has been increasing since 1961. Average floor areas have been increasing as well – from 130 m2 in 1990 to 161 m2 in 2007. These lifestyle factors all combine to increase Ireland's carbon emissions – the average Irish dwelling in 2005 emitted 47% more CO2 than the average UK dwelling. Additionally, in terms of its fuel mix, Ireland has a high proportion of oil and coal use at 38% and 17% of the total respectively, with minimal district heating and use of wood. As of 2009, renewables met 4.9% of Ireland's total energy requirement. However, the EU Renewable Directive will require Ireland to install enough renewable technology to reach 16% of all energy consumed by 2020. Ireland maintains a statutory prohibition of nuclear generation.
Baile Glas Eco Village
Lombardstown, Mallow, County Cork
Designed by MCO and PRP ZEDfactor, Baile Glas is Ireland's first social and affordable eco-village. The development was completed in 2006 and includes 12 houses, four of which are affordable and eight of which are social. The two guiding principles for the project were the Cork Rural Design Guide and the CEPHEUS Passive House Targets.
The houses are semi-detached and timber-framed, designed in vernacular style with a pitched roof and barge walls. The main feature for each house is the main elevation, consisting of a glass-walled 'wintergarden' in each house that traps heat from the sun. A heat pump then uses this heat to provide hot water and space heating. The houses also have minimal glazing to the north, thermal mass and high levels of insulation. An air-to-air heat pump with high COP provides any additional heating required. Of particular importance were the training courses given pre-purchase and pre-tenancy.
The house design resulted in 71% energy savings, surpassing the expectation of a 60% reduction. Ultimately, the energy use of each home is 50% less than the average Irish household and as a result of the success of Baile Glas, Cork County Council has used the concept in further housing developments.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, Ireland has committed itself to limiting greenhouse gas emissions to 13% above 1990 levels. It is predicted that this target will be met, in part because of purchasing carbon credits but also because of the lasting effects of the 2008 financial crisis. The government has set the following targets for the coming decades:
• 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020
• 33% renewable energy for national electricity consumption by 2020
• 12% renewable energy for heating by 2020
Ireland's National Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2009-2020, sets out 90 measures to reach the national target of a 20% reduction in energy demand by 2020.
Irish building regulations SI 854 (Part L, 2007) and SI 872 (EPBR, 2005) detail provisions for the conservation of fuel and energy in relation to buildings and promote good building practice and the efficient use of resources.
Part L was amended in 2008 to require more stringent requirements for new houses, including a 40% improvement in energy efficiency and minimum renewable energy requirements in all new homes, such as small-scale biomass and solar.
The official calculation methodology is called the Dwellings Energy Assessment Procedure, or DEAP. This standardised method estimates a dwelling's typical annual energy requirement and the associated CO2 burden. This assessment then generates a Building Energy Rating. The 2007 revision of the regulations aims to achieve an improvement in energy performance and reduction of CO2 emissions by 40% in new dwellings compared to current standards.
Under the National Home Energy Saving Scheme, houses built before 2006 are entitled to grants for energy efficiency improvements. Such work includes improved insulation, heating system upgrades, highly efficient boilers installation and Building Energy Rating assessments. Grants are currently fixed at 40% of the total cost of the works but will be superseded by the National Retrofit Programme, expected to be launched in late 2011.
The Microgeneration Support Programme was established in 2008 with an allocation of €2 million to identify the potential and establish the necessary infrastructure for small and micro-scale wind, solar and hydro in the domestic and commercial sectors. The results of the programme will help set the foundations for the establishment of feed-in tariffs. The grant for the programme is 50% of the initial start-up costs, available for installation of microgeneration systems in 50 trials nationwide.