Energy efficiency efforts for homes and businesses 'must be trebled' to meet 2020 targets

The country could face fines of up €130 million if we do not achieve international targets

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File photo. Image: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire/Press Association Images

A new report has found we need to treble our efforts to upgrade homes and businesses for energy efficiency if we are to avoid fines of up €130 million.

Ireland has committed to reducing energy demand by 20% by 2020 - and we are around half-way towards meeting the target.

The study released today from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland has found that upgrades and actions need to be accelerated.

Researchers found that the use of biofuels added to traditional transport fuels needs to treble. They also suggest that new electric vehicle registrations need to grow from less than 1% to 20% of new car sales by 2020.

The report also finds that while 40,000 homes and 550 businesses are using some form of renewable heat technologies, that level needs to increase sevenfold.

Dr Eimear Cotter is Head of Low Carbon Technologies with the SEAI, and spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about their findings.

"We have made substantial progress in terms of meeting our energy efficiency and renewable targets," she explained. "But now we face some challenges, particularly in relation to heat and transport.

"These are quite difficult sectors in which to achieve renewable energy penetration and then emissions reductions because of the unique circumstances that we have in Ireland - where we have a dispersed population, for example, and a largely rural-based population," Dr Cotter added.