Author: Prof Jerry D Murphy, Science Foundation Ireland, Marine Renewable Energy Ireland Centre, Environmental Research Institute, School of Engineering, University College Cork
An ongoing task for engineers is to predict the future and plan infrastructure based on these predictions. This is a difficult task and is not an exact science. Questions abound. What will the population of the country be in 2050? How much housing is needed and where is it required? Where will industry be situated? How will we provide energy to industry and to houses?
This is not just about electricity, but renewable thermal energy and renewable transport sources. In terms of final consumption, electricity consumes approximately 20% of energy, while transport and thermal energy consume about 40% each. Table 1 indicates a very simplified analysis of how these different sectors will contribute to the overall renewable energy target of 16% by 2020. It must be stated that plans for renewable electricity are far more advanced than for renewable heat or transport.
Table 1: Simplified analysis of renewable energy targets