The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) recently launched the Government's latest annual report on public sector energy performance. The report provides data on energy consumption and energy performance throughout the sector.
While the sector is much smaller than the industrial and residential sectors in terms of energy use, it spends €536 million per annum on energy, and comprises over 44,000 metered energy connections (electricity & gas). The scope of the sector is quite diverse in terms of both energy consumption and constituent organisations, in that it includes offices, hospitals, schools (~4,000), colleges, water services facilities, public lighting, public transport and other transportation services. It includes several large commercial state bodies (e.g. ESB, Coillte, Bus Éireann), the civil service, local authorities and numerous state agencies, as well as several charities that provide services on behalf of the State (e.g. in the health sector).
Potential for savings
The sector has an ambitious target of a 33% improvement in energy efficiency by by 2020 (compared to 20% for the wider economy). According to the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment's Public sector energy efficiency strategy (January 2017), achieving the 33% target 'would see the public sector avoid €246m in energy spend in the year 2020 and avoided CO2 emissions of 5.9m tonnes for the period 2009-2020.'
The sector used almost 10,000 GWh of primary energy in 2016, 95% of which was consumed by 336 public bodies and 2,171 schools that submitted consumption data to SEAI through its monitoring & reporting system. Our sankey diagram below summarises the key consumption data that has been published.
Public sector energy consumption 2016 (source: SEAI)
Notes: all values are expressed in GWh of primary energy; ETBs = education & training boards.
The following are some headline figures from the report:
- 52% of public sector consumption is electricity, with thermal energy accounting for a quarter and transport just over one fifth (on a primary energy basis).
- Almost 70% of transport consumption is in the commercial state sector, which includes the four state-owned transport companies.
- Altogether, buildings account for about half of energy use.
- 37% of electricity consumption is in the local authority & water services sector (i.e. including Irish Water). Water services facilities consume 18% of all electricity used (10% of total energy), while public lighting accounts for a further 10% of electricity (5% of total energy).
- The top 10 organisations are responsible for almost half of total consumption.
- 35 organisations consume over 50 GWh per annum and together account for almost 70% of consumption: the HSE, four Dublin-based voluntary hospitals, six universities, the four state-owned transport companies, seven local authorities (4 x Dublin, 2 x Cork, Donegal), two government departments (Agriculture, Social Protection), RTÉ, Coillte, Bord na Móna, ESB, Irish Water, An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces, Irish Prison Service, An Post, Dublin Airport and the Revenue Commissioners.
- The health sector accounts for 20% of overall consumption and two fifths of thermal energy consumption, including 35% of natural gas consumption.
The 33% target applies to all public bodies, i.e. each organisation has a target to achieve a 33% energy efficiency improvement by 2020, compared to a defined baseline period. The SEAI report reveals that of the 336 non-school public bodies that reported data, 87% have improved their performance since their baselines and almost half (47%) are 'on track' to meet their 33% target.
Overall, the sector has improved its energy performance by 20% by 2016 and is therefore just short of two thirds of the way to meeting its 33%-by-2020 energy efficiency target. However, progress has plateaued somewhat - the corresponding savings figure for 2015 was 21%. The report notes that while the 20% result 'represents a substantial saving, there are significant challenges ahead for public bodies to bridge the gap to the 2020 target'. The scale of this challenge is illustrated below - the light green bar shows the additional savings required to reach the target, on the basis of a steady trajectory to 2020.
Improvement in public sector energy efficiency 2009-2016 (source: SEAI)
Achieving the 33% target would be equivalent to 3,879 GWh of primary energy savings. The annual savings achieved by 2016 amount to 2,336 GWh, which is equivalent to €133 million of avoided expenditure and 520,000 tonnes of avoided CO2 emissions per annum.
This insight is based on our analysis of SEAI's latest data (2016) and replaces a previous article that analysed 2015 data. Our 2015 sankey diagram is available here.
The SEAI report is based on analysis undertaken by Byrne Ó Cléirigh and summarises data that has been submitted through SEAI's public sector energy monitoring & reporting (M&R) system. Byrne Ó Cléirigh played a lead role in the development of this system and continues to work closely with SEAI on its implementation and ongoing development.