Projects‎ > ‎

IE-NETS Potential for Negative Emissions Technologies in Ireland (IE-NETS)

(Image courtesy of Pete Linforth)

Investigating the Potential for Negative Emissions Technologies in Ireland (IE-NETS) is a completed two year research project funded by the Environmental Protection Agency of Ireland (EPA) Research Programme 2014-2020 (grant number 2016-CCRP-MS.36). It was undertaken jointly by Dublin City University and Trinity College Dublin under the direction of Professor Barry McMullin (DCU) and Professor Mike Jones (TCD).

The project website is here. A wide ranging NETs literature review with a public bibliographic database and a working paper on deep decarbonisation of Ireland's energy system have been published. Two peer reviewed papers have been published by the IENETS project: 

The peer-reviewed summary of the IE-NETS project has now been officially published as EPA Report 354: 
IE-NETs: Investigating the Potential for Negative Emissions Technologies (NETs) in Ireland
Authors: Barry McMullin, Michael B. Jones, Paul R. Price, Alwynne McGeever and Paul Rice.

The following gives the final report's project summary, policy and findings:

Identifying Pressures
The IE-NETs project applies the most recent scientific understanding that effective climate action requires setting a
finite limit on total future net emissions of carbon dioxide (CO₂) due to human activities. This is true at the global level,
but it also translates directly to local and national levels for climate action in Ireland, as it relates to CO₂, the single
largest contributor to human-caused global warming. The analysis reveals the acute pressure to fundamentally alter
all those activities in our society that currently release CO₂ to the atmosphere. These activities are dominated by the
use of fossil fuels, which is both pervasive in our ongoing activities (transport, heating, electricity) and embodied in
our infrastructure and virtually all of the products that we currently produce and consume.

Informing Policy
This framing of climate action in the context of cumulative net CO₂ emissions provides a powerful new lens through
which to understand and assess the interactions between short-, medium- and long-term climate mitigation policies.
In particular, it allows an integrated assessment of actions that would reduce direct, gross emissions of CO₂ to the
atmosphere and complementary actions that might actively remove CO₂ from the atmosphere – so-called negative
emissions technologies or NETs.
This project has provided the first preliminary assessment of the technical potential
for NETs deployment in Ireland.
It also provides assessments of Ireland’s prudent, minimally equitable, Paris-aligned national CO₂ quota and expected
cumulative CO₂ emissions on the basis of existing policy approaches. This has identified a significant gap between
mitigation that is currently regarded as feasible, and what appears to be required 
to discharge even our minimal
“fair share” international contribution in responding to the global climate emergency.

Developing Solutions
This project has reviewed the approaches to NETs that currently appear to have most potential for deployment in
Ireland: afforestation, enhanced soil carbon sequestration, biochar, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage,
direct air carbon capture and storage and enhanced weathering of rock materials. It has developed an assessment of
technical potential for the scale, timing and security of long-term carbon storage that each might offer. It has applied
novel, high-resolution, modelling, incorporating detailed biological mechanisms, to better understand the potential
for scaling up indigenous bioenergy production, and the possible interaction with local climate change. It has also
developed a portfolio of coarse-grained scenarios for the future development of the Irish energy system, under
strict national CO₂ quota constraints (with and without overshoot), to better characterise the interactions between
supply-side decarbonisation, demand-side constraint and NETs deployment. Taken together, these results provide
the basis for a set of recommendations to inform public understanding and support a national policy response that is
commensurate to the scale of the climate challenge.