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Fuel usage in Ireland and how to make this more sustainable for the future.

Fuel usage in Ireland and how to make this more sustainable for the future.

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by John O Connor. Originally submitted for Environmental Health at Dublin Institute of Technology, with lecturer Barbara Delaney in the category of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by John O Connor. Originally submitted for Environmental Health at Dublin Institute of Technology, with lecturer Barbara Delaney in the category of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The scope for this assignment was:A.
Give a detailed account of current (i.e.2009-2011) fuel use in various sectors (e.g.transport, agriculture, industry, power generation, residential) in Ireland, clearlyidentifying your sources of this data, how has this has changed since the early 1990'sand discuss the reasons for changeB.
What realistic, practicable proposals would you make in order to make this moresustainable and how and by whom would your proposals be implemented?For an island with the potential to use so many various different forms of renewableenergy such as wind power, tidal, solar power, wave power, geothermal, biofuel, andwood, Ireland is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels. With the future lifespan of somany of these fuels unknown Ireland is slowly making change. However this change isnot at a fast enough pace. Fuel usage has been, and will continue to be dominated byfossil fuels.It is a recurring theme across all sectors in Ireland. The Government has put measures inplace to try and combat this trend and to promote sustainable forms of energy but more
needs to be done. With Ireland in an economic downturn which doesn’t seem to be ending
anytime soon further measures need to be put in place to make it more affordable for thepeople of Ireland to use more sustainable fuels and forms of energy.
Fuel usage in Ireland and how to make this more sustainable for the futurePart A)
For the purpose of this assignment I will be giving a detailed account of the fuel use in thefollowing sectors:Industry Transport Agriculture ResidentialCommercial andPublic ServicesPowerGenerationAlso for the purpose of this assignment fuels will be broken down into the followingcategories:CoalProductsPeatProductsPetroleumProductsRenewableSourcesA breakdown of all the different fuels in these categories can be seen in Table B below.
According to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), industry can be brokendown into 13 different categories, ranging from; wood and wood products to food, beveragesand tobacco. (SEAI, 2011) The main fuels used in this sector in the past 20 years arepetroleum products. This has not changed in the time period from 1990-2010. In that stretchof time there has been an increase in the usage of petroleum products but not by much. Theuse of petroleum products rose by 11% whereas the use of renewable sources of energy roseby 142% in the same time period.This is because throughout the world there is a greater need for these products. Across theglobe a small number of countries have significant amounts of oil and gas reserves. AsIreland does not have significant amounts of its own reserves we import a lot of our gas andoil. This means that theses other countries can dictate the price. Some industries cannot affordthe high prices. Also petroleum products are not sustainable and will eventually run out. Thisis why more and more industries are investing in renewable sources of energy which willnever run out such as wind power and solar power.Another reason could be the affect of the recession. Lots of industries had to close, whileothers had to downsize in order to stay afloat. Fuel costs can account for a high proportion of 
a company’s
expenses. This could be the reason why there was only an 11% increase inusage of petroleum products in this sector.
Transport can be broken down into 8 different categories, ranging from road transport, toaviation, to rail. The main fuels used in this sector in the last 20 years are petroleum products.The use of petroleum products rose by 127% in this time period. Petroleum productsdominate this sector. However renewable source of energy are also starting to be used, risingfrom zero usage in 1990 to 92ktoe in 2010.The reason why petroleum products dominate this sector is because there are very fewalternatives to petrol and diesel. Biodiesel and electric cars and in their infancy in this countrybut the technology is present and their usage is increasing. There are over 2.5 millionregistered vehicles in this country and 2.6 million licensed drivers. (DTTAS, 2011) Thedemand is only going to keep rising and the petrol and diesel reserves and going to getsmaller. This is why the usage of renewable sources of fuel has gone up.
Agriculture is a category all on its own. This is due to its importance within Irish society andthe revenue it brings to the country.
This “sector in Ireland contributes a value of €24 billion
to the national economy, generates 6.3% of gross value added and provides 7.4% of nationalemployment
.” (Teagasc 2011)
The main fuels used in this sector since 1990
2010petroleum products. Petroleum products dominate this sector, with no other fuel type beingused. However since 1990 there has only been a 5% increase in its use. This could be due tovarious reasons. Agriculture is a very important industry in Ireland. It provides a lot of foodwhile also garnering a lot of revenue. However it is not the huge industry it once was and this
is probably why the fuel usage has not increased dramatically. Less and less people aregetting involved in agriculture and typically it is kept within the family.
The main fuels used in this sector over the last 20 year are petroleum products. This is thesector with the most amount of variety in terms of the fuels it uses. However since 1990 thissector has become heavily dependent on petroleum products. Coal has suffered a 61%decrease in its use, peat has suffered a 65% decrease in its use, while petroleum productshave had a 128% increase in its use. This is down to many different reasons.
Coal and peat do not provide as much heat as oil and gas do.
Oil and gas are much more convenient than coal and peat. They can be easily storedand delivered, less labour in maintaining the source of heat. Can be automated to acertain degree.
In some areas of Ireland, burning these fuels is prohibited.
A lot of houses may not have the ability to burn solid fuels
Oil and gas give off far less pollutants than coal and peat.
Cutting turf on bogs is becoming less and less common as Ireland’s bogs are trying to
be preserved by the Government.Renewable sources of energy have seen an increase of 30% in the same time period.Although nowhere near the usage of petroleum products the usage of renewable sources of energy are on the up rise due to its sustainability.
Commercial and Public Services:
As with the other sectors the main fuel that has been used in this particular sector arepetroleum products. However since 1990 this sector has seen a 23% decrease in the use of petroleum products and an 18% increase in the use of renewable sources of energy. Thisdecrease could be in part to do with the recession. The recession has caused the closure of many commercial and public services in Ireland. This would give a valid reason as why to thelevel of usage of petroleum products have gone down. If this list was viewed during theheight of the Celtic Tiger the level of usage would be much higher. The increase in the usageof renewable sources of fuel corresponds with the other sectors. In general, the use of renewable forms of energy is on the increase by 197% since 1990. This is because people aretrying to find cheaper, renewable source of energy.
 Power Generation:
This sector is different than the rest as the fuel usage is grouped differently. The SEAIcategorises gas as being in the petroleum products category. However, Europa (Table A)classifies gas as being a category all of its own. If we were to compare power generation tothe other sectors using the same system (SEAI system, Table B) then petroleum productswould be once again the category with the highest fuel use.

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