There is an understanding that DH has a significant role to play in enabling a greater proportion of heat demand to be supplied from renewable sources. Ireland has a target of 12% of heat demand to come from renewable sources by 2020 this proportion currently stands at 6.9%. Two planned DH schemes in Dublin have received approximately €25 million in government funding through the Climate Action Fund. Initial results from the ‘Heat Atlas for Ireland’ study suggest that up to 57% of the country’s total heat demand could be covered by district heating networks, if the necessary government regulations are put in place.
The Climate Action Plan 2019 states some of the following actions regarding DH:
Implementing a roadmap for delivering District Heating potential,
An additional increase of 120GWh growing linearly from 2023 to 2028,
Develop a national policy framework (including; regulation, planning, financing and research),
Ensuring the potential of district heating is considered in all new developments and in particular strategic development zones,
Identifying a set of early mover projects beyond the initial two schemes in Dublin.
There is currently no heat strategy in Ireland. However, the Project Ireland 2040 National Planning framework does state “District heating networks will be developed, where technically feasible and cost-effective, to assist in meeting renewable heat targets and reduce Ireland’s GHG emissions”. The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) has been introduced which will help support renewable heat production for DH schemes with a capital contribution for heat pumps and a support tariff for biomass and biogas heat production.
Currently, the majority of heating is delivered to buildings through individual gas and oil boilers. Only 6.9% of total final consumption of thermal energy is met by renewable sources (2017 figures latest). Renewable heat energy is dominated by solid biomass which accounts for 79% of renewable heat production. The next biggest renewable heat source are heat pumps which account for 15%, followed by Solar Thermal (5%), and Biogas (3%). CHP met 6.3% of the total thermal energy requirements, mostly for large industry, particularly the non-ferous metals and food industries. 258 of 298 operational CHPs in 2017 in Ireland use natural gas, which equates to 91.65% of the operational capacity.