Press Release: IrBEA on New EU Renewables Directive, “progress yes, but not seeing much drive in transport”

Statement from Irish Bioenergy Association 

The EU has upped the renewables target to 32% overall, and this gives plenty of incentive for progress in electricity, heat and transport, which is good. For the first time all solid biomass will have sustainability criteria requirements regardless of source, this will ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of biomass as a central renewable fuel. Also of note is the minimum greenhouse gas reduction requirements of 70% which will be applied from 2021 onwards, rising to 80% in 2026. The new regulations also set minimum efficiency levels for biomass power plants. 

The new transport sector sub-target for renewables is set at 14%, not a huge step-up from the current 2020 target of 10%. Double-counting will be allowed for advanced biofuels. This means one can use one litre of renewable fuel and count it as two. This means the target can be met numerically by achieving 7% renewables, with the consequence that another 7% of fossil derived liquid fuels need not be replaced in meeting the target – which you could argue defeats the purpose.

As for the optional 7%, this is reserved for crop-based biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel from grain, beet and rapeseed.  But a country cannot exceed the amount of this fuel that it was using in 2020, so if your country was at 4% crop-biofuels in 2020 it cannot go to 7% in 2030.  This may be better than the European Commission’s intention of cutting such biofuels to 3.8% but it’s disappointing when one considers the potential for EU sourced crop biofuels to safely and effectively contribute to climate action while at the same time providing EU farmers with secure farm income, lots more GMO-free and antibiotic-free protein feed (by product of the biofuels) and long term investment in rural communities. IrBEA is committed to ensuring that all bioenergy and all renewable energy sources are fully sustainable, we recognize and fully support the need for proper controls around sustainability – however placing a cap in 2018 on a target in 2030 in a technology sector that is advancing rapidly can only serve to stifle the much needed innovations over the coming decades. The challenge of lowering carbon emissions is one of the greatest challenges of society today, policy measures must encourage innovation as an absolute priority.

Digging into the targets set, if we take out double counting and optional contributions then the hard target for transport renewables is in actuality 3.5%, or less, which is no more than what Europe has today.  Factor in the steady 1%-3% growth each year in transport and we end up with significant net increases in greenhouse gas emissions.

One positive note, according to James Cogan of IrBEA’s transport team,  is that palm oil diesel will be phased out by 2030 under the Directive.  Palm diesel for the EU has resulted in many hundreds of thousands of hectares of peatland and forest being drained and burnt, sending vastly more CO2 and methane into the atmosphere than if the unknowing drivers had stuck to regular diesel.  And palm diesel does no good for farmers, feed or Europe’s rural economies.    Europe needs to improve its governance systems in the energy transition from fossil to renewables and the Directive is very light on this aspect. 

Lastly, and it may seem minor, but RED II was an opportunity lost for Europe to exclude countries which haven’t signed the Paris Climate Agreement from supplying energy into our transport markets, a measure which is good for climate action and good for Europe’s farmers and producers.  Any means for rectifying this before the final text is delivered would be warmly welcomed.

The European Biomass Association (AEBIOM): RED II Set the First European-Wide Sustainability Criteria for Solid Biomass

Brussels, 14.06.18

Understanding the key role played by solid bioenergy, EU negotiations on RED II opted for a constructive approach towards sustainability in the last round of trilogue negotiations. However, the compromise found fall short on creating a level playing for sustainability criteria. 

For the first time, European-wide sustainability criteria have been adopted for solid bioenergy. The European Biomass Association, AEBIOM, welcomes the risk-based approach, the 20 MW threshold and the criteria themselves. This approach ensures that biomass is produced sustainably, irrespective of its geographical origin, without creating unnecessary administrative burden on small installations and countries with a well-established system of forest management.

“You will always find people to complain about the criteria. But for the first time the European legislators gives a sustainability roadmap to the solid bioenergy sector. Despite controversy, policy makers decided to take a challenging but pragmatic approach considering field realities.” explained Jean-Marc Jossart, AEBIOM Secretary-General.

Bioenergy will need to meet 80% greenhouse gas emission savings as compared to fossil fuels in 2026. For electricity-only installations, only best-available technology will be able to get supports. To give a comprehensive overview on all new criteria, AEBIOM released a dedicated infographic today (see below).

The compromise also recognises the role of co-firing allowing bioenergy to play a key role in energy transition while ensuring that biomass is not prolonging the life of old coal installations.

AEBIOM has been one of the front-runners calling for the introduction of EU sustainability criteria as a way to ensure market confidence, while keeping an equal level-playing field for the sector. In this context, we regret to see that Member States will be able to adopt additional national criteria. We hope that we do not end up with 28 different systems after such a constructive effort achieved at European level.

IrBEA Seeks to Appoint a Chief Executive

The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) seeks to appoint a Chief Executive, to lead and manage the Association’s activities.

The Chief Executive will operate under the direction of the President and the Board of Directors, and will lead, manage and oversee generally the administration and business of the Association.

IrBEA is looking for candidates with a minimum of three years proven management and leadership in a member association, or an SME, with a degree-level qualification, familiarity with good corporate governance practice, and an understanding of the Renewable Energy/Bioenergy sectors in Ireland. He/she should have some experience of working with stakeholders in the sector and in the relevant Government Departments.

Completed applications should be emailed to the IrBEA secretary, Padraic O’Neill, at padraic@envirovalue.ie by 12 pm on Friday 6th July 2018.

A detailed job specification including the full requirements of the application process can be found here  and Key Achievements Form here

IrBEA is a members’ association, with around 170 members, focussed on representing the needs of the bioenergy sector, including wood energy, biomass, anaerobic digestion and biogas, energy crops.

(This Job is advertised on Engineers Ireland and Irishjobs.ie

Press Release: IrBEA welcomes Government’s biofuel blend increase to 10%

Statement from Irish Bioenergy Association

The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) welcomes the Government’s announcement that the biofuels obligation rate will increase from 8% to 10% from January 1st 2019. The decision was taken this week by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten. IrBEA responded to the open consultation on the BOS in January 2018 recommending and supporting the proposed increase.

Ger Devlin (IrBEA CEO) stated: “Biofuels represent nearly all of the carbon emission reductions achieved by Ireland in the transport sector in the last decade. Their continued use during the infrastructural transition to electric vehicles and renewable generated electricity is crucial if we are to reach our climate targets for 2030 and 2050. The new blend rate will now displace c.600 000 tonnes of CO2 annually.”

The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that biofuels will need to make up a third of the world’s total transport energy by 2050 if the Paris climate targets are to be met, making them as important as electromobility and efficiency in decarbonising transport the transport sector.

IrBEA supports sustainably produced EU biofuels with low iLUC impacts such as conventional bioethanol and biodiesel (the main biofuels used in Ireland today). Sustainably produced biofuels are an important part of the global bioeconomy revolution. As a world leader in agriculture, Ireland is ideally positioned to benefit from growth in the bioeconomy. The Irish government should continue to implement policies – such as the biofuels obligation – that support the sector.

James Cogan, Head of the Biofuels Transport Group within IrBEA, said:

“Europe has been dithering over transport climate action for the last decade but the climate problem hasn’t gone away.  Indeed transport carbon emissions have grown in the period.  In raising the biofuels obligation Ireland is grabbing the bull by the horns. Conventional EU sourced biofuels and biogas are safe, effective, economical and scaleable, and they act as an anchor for bioeconomy innovation and investment. The next decade has to be about confidence, progress and growth.”

With over 200 members, IrBEA is the national association representing the bioenergy industry on the island of Ireland. The main objectives of the association are to influence policy makers, to promote the development of bioenergy and to promote the interests of its members. Improving public awareness, networking and information sharing and liaising with similar interest groups are other key areas of work in promoting biomass as an environmental, economic and socially-sustainable energy resource. www.irbea.org and www.bioenergyfutureireland.com

 

ENDS

A Comprehensive Overview of Biogas & Biomethane Sectors in Europe

The European Biogas Association (EBA) joins forces every year with its extensive network of national biogas associations to provide overviews, statistics and analyses of biogas markets, support schemes and related policy issues.
Biogas Plants
The number of biogas plants in Europe has greatly increased. Between 2009 (earliest EBA data) and 2016, the total number of biogas plants rose from 6,227 to 17,662 installations (+11,435 units). Growth was particularly strong from 2010 to 2012, reaching double figures every year. Most of that growth derives from the increase in plants running on agricultural substrates: these went from 4,797 units in 2009 to 12,496 installations in 2016 (+7,699 units, 67% of the total increase). Agricultural plants are then followed by biogas plants running on sewage sludge (2,838 plants), landfill waste (1,604 units) and various other types of waste (688 plants).
Installed Electric Capacity (IEC) in the Biogas Sector
Although the number of biogas plants in Europe has been stabilising since 2015, the total Installed Electric Capacity (IEC) is on the rise. The IEC increased in Europe from 4,158 MW in 2010 to 9,985 MW in 2016 (+5,827 MW). In 2016 alone, the IEC increased by 858 MW (+9%). Growth in Installed Electric Capacity (IEC) since 2011 has been mainly due to the building of plants running on agricultural substrates: such plants went from 3,408 MW in 2011 to 6,348 MW in 2016 (+2,940 MW – 56.5% of the total increase).
Biomethane Production
In line with the development of biomethane plants, biomethane production has greatly increased since 2011: production rose from 752 GWh in 2011 to 17,264 GWh in 2016 (+16,512 GWh). In 2016 alone, biomethane production in Europe increased by 4,971 GWh (+40%): current growth in the sector is therefore demonstrably rapid. The countries which saw the most significant development in biomethane production in 2016 were Germany (+900 GWh), France (+133 GWh) and Sweden (+78 GWh). Full report can be found here

Wastewater to Energy Technology Roll – Out

NVP Energy is a wastewater technology developed at NUI Galway and pioneered by ABP Food Group, which generates renewable electricity from a form of anaerobic digestion (AD). NVP Energy’s ‘low temperature anaerobic digestion’ technology impressed ABP, which embarked on a trial project with the firm at its Lurgan site to test if the energy positive waste-to-methane gas technology could be successfully deployed commercially. Following successful trials and knowledge gathering, the companies collaborated to deploy the full-scale system in Lurgan, Co. Armagh. Today, the treatment plant at Lurgan processes the entire flow of wastewater produced on the site, turning that waste into biogas energy, ideally suited for heat and electricity generation – enough to offset ABP Foods’ gas usage on site by 40%. Source Agriland

James Cogan IrBEA Biofuel Representative Reports on the Sector

James Cogan  (EERL) is a corporate member of IrBEA has recently had a number of meetings with ministers and department officials. Ethanol Europe is an Irish firm that operating an ethanol production facility Pannonia, Hungary . His article in Agriland discusses the status of the Biofuels industry in Europe and Ireland and what issues need to be overcome for the sector to grow, he is concerned that the Irish Government is supporting moves that minimise the use of biofuels at EU level.
Currently Ireland produces 17.5% of the biofuels that are used domestically; however, it is all derived from used cooking oil and animal fat. No Irish farmers are producing biofuels at present. At the EU level however 33% of biofuels – and all of the ethanol that goes to improving climate performance in petrol cars – comes from wheat, maize and beet produced by European farmers. Cogan insists that domestic tillage crop biofuels will dominate the market in the future as they are truly safe and effective as climate solutions. Currently the sector  buys €7 billion worth of tillage crops each year (equivalent to 12% of CAP) and gives back 17 million tonnes of GMO-free protein feed; plus, 220,000 jobs in rural areas and a flourishing bio-economy.

Cogan has held meetings with Minister Michael Creed and Denis Naughten in a bid to boost support for the “promising” sector, he stresses that the Government should ambitiously support biofuels for two reasons in particular: firstly because it is good for the climate; and secondly because of the benefits it can bring farmers. Tillage farming in Ireland has declined 17% in the last five years, With proper support Ireland’s tillage farmers could see a reverse in this trend and processing of their crops at home. He says Ireland must look to the example set by the Scandinavian countries – Sweden in particular – where 20% of country’s transport energy comes from biofuels. To read the article in full here

Minister Denis Naughten Announces Grants for Heat Pumps

From this week homeowners can now apply for grants for the installation of heat pumps, grants of up to €3,500 are available. ( These heat pump grants are not related to the capital grant for heat pumps within the SSRH. This is a separate budget. )
The new grant is available to homes built before 2011, a survey of the home will be carried out before a grant offer can be made. This survey is to ensure that the energy performance of the home’s fabric – i.e. the walls, roof, windows, doors and floor – is sufficient to allow the heat pump system to perform effectively and efficiently. View current grants available under Better Energy Homes Scheme here

EPA Reports that Ireland’s Trading Scheme Emissions are Down

Ireland’s emissions from the 103 stationary facilities in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme were down by 4.8% in 2017 compared to 2016 – but emissions have increased from the food and drink sector. This national reduction is compared to an increase of approximately 0.3% across Europe. Emissions from the Irish power generation sector is down by 8.2%, contributed the major share of the decrease in emission levels, while the food and drink industry sector rose by 2.5% and the cement sector also saw a 2.1% increase.
David Flynn, EPA programme manager, said: “This is the first time since 2013 that Ireland’s Emissions Trading Scheme emissions have shown a decrease.

“The decrease is principally due to a welcome reduction in the use of carbon-intensive fossil fuels in power generation and an increase in the use of renewable energy. These changes demonstrate a move in the right direction for the necessary transformation in Ireland’s energy system….It is important that investment in low carbon technologies is made attractive for industry. A higher price for carbon will help to drive such investment. It is encouraging to see the carbon price is now above €10/t following recent amendments to the Emissions Trading Scheme Directive for the period 2021-2030.”

In Ireland, 103 major industrial and institutional sites participate in the Emissions Trading Scheme. These include sites operating in the power generation, cement, lime, and oil refining sectors. Source: Agriland

Report on Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Tuesday 27 February 2018

IrBEA along with other representatives from the Bioenergy Sector were invited to a meeting of the Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Tuesday 27 February 2018, Webcast Recording. CR2, LH 2000 3.00 p.m. See also the Official Report.

Agenda: (i) Scrutiny of EU Legislative Proposals: Schedule B: COM(2016)52; COM(2017)51.
(ii) Meeting Ireland’s targets under the 2020 Climate & Energy Package – specifically in relation to bioenergy and its role in meeting Ireland’s targets

In attendance: Officials from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and The Environment and Representatives from Kevin Brady (DCCAE), Gas Networks Ireland, Irish BioEnergy Association, Renewable Energy Consumers and Producers, Renewable Gas Forum Ireland

The debate can now be viewed online here

IrBEA also submitted a statement which will be posted on the Oireachtas website and can be view here