Home Knowledge Climate Action Plan 2024 – A Focus on the Electricity Sector

Climate Action Plan 2024 – A Focus on the Electricity Sector

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, as amended (the 2015 Act) commits Ireland to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 51% from 2018 levels by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Following the amendments to the 2015 Act made in 2021, the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications must publish an updated climate action plan annually.  The Climate Action Plan 2024 (CAP24) was approved by Government in December 2023 and is the third update to the Climate Action Plan 2019 to Tackle Climate Breakdown, Ireland’s first climate action plan.

The Electricity Sector

The electricity sector, as a significant source of GHG emissions in Ireland, is a critical focus area of CAP24. In 2022, electricity generation was responsible for 14.4% of Ireland’s total GHG emissions. Progress across the electricity sector under the Climate Action Plan 2023 included the delivery of the onshore Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) 3 Auction and the completion of the first Offshore RESS Auction. See our coverage here and here. The Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) was also established to play a key role in the streamlined offshore consenting process (including for offshore renewable energy projects) introduced by the Maritime Area Planning Acts.


CAP24 builds on the Climate Action Plan 2023 by refining and updating the measures and actions required to adhere to the Irish carbon budget and the sectoral emissions ceilings, prepared by the Minister, within the limits of the carbon budget.

Key Measures and Actions

CAP24 recognises that, while progress has been made in decarbonising the electricity sector, based on SEAI projections, it is going to be “extremely challenging” to meet the electricity emissions ceilings for carbon budget period 1 (2021-2025) and period 2 (2026-2030).

CAP24 identifies three key measures requiring major progress, these are:

  • accelerate and increase the deployment of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels;
  • deliver a flexible system to support renewables and demand; and
  • manage demand.

Accelerate and increase the deployment of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels

CAP24 recognises that the deployment of renewables needs to outpace the growth in energy demand for it to deliver the required reductions in GHG emissions. Some of the targets outlined in CAP24 for the deployment of renewables are:

  • 50% renewable electricity share by 2025, increasing to 80% by 2030;
  • 6GW of onshore wind by 2023, increasing to 9GW in 2030;
  • up to 5GW solar capacity by 2025, increasing to 8GW by 2030; and
  • at least 5GW to come from offshore wind by 2030.

A KPI for 2030 is also green hydrogen production from surplus renewable electricity generation. For further information on this, see our coverage of Ireland’s National Hydrogen Strategy.

Among the measures outlined to accelerate and increase such deployment is ensuring that Local Authorities, An Bord Pleanála and MARA are sufficiently resourced.  In addition, several plans, strategies, and frameworks are to be published in the renewable energy space, including a new Grid Connection Policy, draft Revised Wind Energy Development Guidelines and the revised methodology for Local Authorities Renewable Energy Strategies.

Renewables & the Just Transition

A further measure is for all new or repowered renewable energy projects to implement a Community Benefit Fund (CBF) equivalent to those provided for under RESS which require payments of €2/MWh. The CBF would be used for the wider economic, environmental, social, and cultural well-being of the local community and is designed to incentivise investment in local renewable energy, energy efficiency measures and climate action initiatives. Communities can also participate in decision-making on the allocation of the funds in the CBF.

Deliver a flexible system to support renewables and demand

In addition to accelerating the deployment of renewable energy generation, CAP24 outlines that it is necessary to accelerate grid flexibility and manage electricity demand growth.

Among the measures outlined to accelerate grid flexibility are: the delivery of at least three new electricity transmission grid connections or interconnectors; the publication of the Electricity Storage Policy which will support the further deployment of electricity storage in Ireland, including longer term storage; and an increase in the deployment of medium to long-term storage technologies.

Managing Electricity Demand Growth

To manage the growth in demand for electricity, a number of measures are outlined including: ensuring that 15-20% of the electricity system demand is flexible by 2025, increasing to 20-30% by 2030; and the delivery of a demand side strategy that should, among other things, (i) accelerate the rollout of local flexibility markets by the Distribution System Operator and (ii) contain measures to incentivise Large Energy Users to increase the flexibility in their electricity demand.


As outlined, the key measures for the electricity sector centre around accelerating renewable energy deployment and grid flexibility to support demand in addition to managing demand growth. The planned publications outlined under CAP24, as well as the Planning and Development Bill 2023, will be essential to Ireland successfully achieving the necessary reductions in its GHG emissions.

While CAP24 has been approved by Government, it is now subject to Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment. Public consultation closed on 5 April 2024. Further changes may still be made before its final version is published.

Further Information


Contributed by Kate Abell & Colm Booth