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Power sector leads the way decarbonising the Irish energy sector

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Ireland has successfully advanced the transformation of its energy sector, led primarily by the power sector. In 2017, about a quarter of the country’s total power generation came from wind power, the third highest share among all 30 IEA member countries, according to the latest review of Ireland’s energy policies by the International Energy Agency.

The Irish electricity system can already accommodate up to 65% of variable wind and solar generation, without risking security of supply. This is one of the highest shares globally, and a testimony to the country’s innovation and research capacity.

Ireland’s overall energy system remains  heavily reliant on fossil fuels, and with energy consumption projected to rise with population growth, Ireland will need to meet its future energy needs through low-carbon and energy efficient solutions in order to keep carbon emissions in check. Ireland is not on course to meet its emissions reduction and renewable energy targets for 2020, which means that reaching its 2030 targets is also in question.

“Ireland has become a world leader in system integration of renewables thanks in large part to strong policies and commitment to innovation” said Paul Simons, IEA Deputy Executive Director, who presented the report in Ireland. “Building on this success, we advise the government to urgently implement additional measures and monitor  their  progress to get the country back on track to meet its long-term climate targets.”

Efforts to manage emissions could include building on the success of its broad set of existing energy efficiency policies and the many new policies that have come into force since 2017, supported by a substantial increase in funding. Ireland’s commitment to efficiency is highlighted by its decision to host the IEA’s 4th Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency in Dublin in June 2019.

Decarbonising heating in buildings is a particular challenge for Ireland because of a highly dispersed population living in single-family dwellings, which, compared to other IEA countries, still feature a high share of individual oil-heating systems. As Ireland has already achieved significant reductions in energy intensity, attention should now shift to switching from fossil fuels towards more renewable energy sources in heat production.

Since January 2019, all new buildings must install renewable energy systems to ensure that the expansion of the building stock does not lock-in carbon fuel consumption. Decarbonising heat in the existing building stock is more challenging; especially in the rental sector. In its report, the IEA recommends a two pronged strategy: complementing attractive financial incentives for landlords along with the introduction of minimum energy efficiency standards where needed.

Moving towards a low-carbon energy system will also ease concerns over Ireland’s security of supply, given its limited domestic hydrocarbon resources and geography that makes a full integration into larger European energy markets challenging.

Ireland is one of the few countries that taxes all carbon fuels, an effective instrument for reducing demand and enhancing energy efficiency. But the carbon tax rate has not changed since 2014 and, with rising living standards, its impact on customer behaviour is weakening. The IEA encourages the Irish government to introduce an automatic upward adjustment of the tax when pre-set emission targets are not met.

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OPEC+ agrees to stick to its existing policy of reducing oil production

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Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ agreed in early October to reduce production by 2 million barrels per day from November, – informs CNBC.

An influential alliance of oil producers on Sunday agreed to stay the course on output policy ahead of a pending ban from the European Union on Russian crude.

OPEC and non-OPEC producers, a group of  23 oil-producing nations known as OPEC+, decided to stick to its existing policy of reducing oil production by 2 million barrels per day, or about 2% of world demand, from November until the end of 2023.

The European Union is poised to ban all imports of Russian seaborne crude from Monday, while the U.S. and other members of the G-7 will impose a price cap on the oil Russia sells to countries around the world.

The Kremlin has previously warned that any attempt to impose a price cap on Russian oil will cause more harm than good.

Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ agreed in early October to reduce production by 2 million barrels per day from November. It came despite calls from the U.S. for the group to pump more to lower fuel prices and help the global economy…

The looming Russian oil price “cap” has all the hallmarks of a historic debacle in the making, – notes “The Hill”.

For months, the United States and the G-7 have haggled over a complex plan to constrain the money that the Kremlin makes from some of its oil exports.

Despite Russian war against Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions on his regime, Russia is swimming in petrol dollars. By the end of the year, the Russian Economy Ministry estimates that the country will have made a record $338 billion from its energy exports.

Together with America’s existing embargo on Russian crude, when the European Union’s oil embargo comes into full force on Dec. 5, policymakers fear that the move will constrain global petroleum supplies and push prices upward.

Assuming that EU and G-7 leaders can sort out their current price puzzle and fix Russian crude below what the international market would prefer to pay, who will pick winners and losers in the subsequent scramble for cheap Kremlin oil: Putin and his energy cronies?  

The Russian oil “cap” would not be necessary if the Biden White House had been making it easier to open the spigots of American oil from the start. The president’s pledge of “no more drilling” in America continues to undercut his economic and foreign policy against Russia.

If the Russian oil price cap fails to materialize or work as officials intend, the United States and its allies should drop the scheme, – stresses “The Hill”.

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G7 agrees oil price cap: reducing Russia’s revenues, while keeping global energy markets stable

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The international Price Cap Coalition has finalised its work on implementing an oil price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil. EU Member States in the Council have also just approved in parallel its implementation within the EU.

The cap has been set at a maximum price of 60 USD per barrel for crude oil and is adjustable in the future in order to respond to market developments. This cap will be implemented by all members of the Price Cap Coalition through their respective domestic legal processes.  

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said, “The G7 and all EU Member States have taken a decision that will hit Russia’s revenues even harder and reduce its ability to wage war in Ukraine. It will also help us to stabilise global energy prices, benefitting countries across the world who are currently confronted with high oil prices.”

While the EU’s ban on importing Russian seaborne crude oil and petroleum products remains fully in place, the price cap will allow European operators to transport Russian oil to third countries, provided its price remains strictly below the cap.

The price cap has been specifically designed to reduce further Russia’s revenues, while keeping global energy markets stable through continued supplies. It will therefore also help address inflation and keep energy costs stable at a time when high costs – particularly elevated fuel prices – are a great concern in the EU and across the globe.

The price cap will take effect after 5 December 2022 for crude and 5 February 2023 for refined petroleum products [the price for refined products will be finalised in due course]. It will enter into force simultaneously across all Price Cap Coalition jurisdictions. The price cap also provides for a smooth transition – it will not apply to oil purchased above the price cap, which is loaded onto vessels prior to 5 December and unloaded before 19 January 2023.

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The EU’s sanctions against Russia are proving effective. They are damaging Russia’s ability to manufacture new weapons and repair existing ones, as well as hinder its transport of material.

The geopolitical, economic, and financial implications of Russia’s continued aggression are clear, as the war has disrupted global commodities markets, especially for agrifood products and energy. The EU continues to ensure that its sanctions do not impact energy and agrifood exports from Russia to third countries.

As guardian of the EU Treaties, the European Commission monitors the enforcement of EU sanctions across the EU.

The EU stands united in its solidarity with Ukraine, and will continue to support Ukraine and its people together with its international partners, including through additional political, financial, and humanitarian support.

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Less Russian crude on the market may result in higher crude prices early next year

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When the U.S. Treasury Secretary proposed capping the price of Russian export oil to curb Moscow’s revenues, oil prices spiked. And Russia’s reaction was quite predictable: Moscow said it would stop exporting oil to countries that enforce the price cap that was embraced by all members of the G7, including Japan, which was granted an exemption from the cap, notes “Oil Price”.

Now, while the European Union debates the level of the oil price cap, skepticism about its effectiveness has grown. The main factor driving this skepticism is the price level being discussed, which is between $65 and $70 per barrel.

According to the authors of the idea at G7, this price level would provide Russia with an incentive to continue exporting crude oil even with a cap in a bid to avoid a shortage.

The problem is that unless the EU agrees on the price cap proposed by the G7, it will have to implement its very own embargo on all maritime Russian crude oil imports. And the problem lies in the fact that an embargo could lead to substantially higher prices for European oil buyers.

Yet at the currently considered price level, the cap, while certainly ensuring that Russian oil continues to flow internationally, would fail at its second stated goal: reducing Moscow’s revenues.

Yet for the EU, the matter seems to be more or less settled: Poland is not budging on its demand for a lower cap, and Greece and Cyprus are unlikely to budge on their demand to have their shipping industries protected — hypothetically — via a higher cap.

What this means? – An EU embargo on Russian oil, a squeeze on the supply of oil to the EU, and, consequently, higher prices. And higher prices for non-Russian oil may well lead to higher prices for Russian oil, too, as supply gets rerouted.

And if Russia sticks to its promise to suspend sales to cap enforcers, it might even end up with greater revenues from its oil.

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