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

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

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

Reporting from IrBEA’s Bioenergy Future Ireland Conference in Croke Park

 

 

Sean Kelly MEP opens Bioenergy Future Ireland

Des O’Toole (IrBEA President) Presenting at the IrBEA Conference

 

The mood at the National Bioenergy Conference – Bioenergy Future Ireland Conference was buoyant, IrBEA had an extremely enjoyable day at Croke Park, organisers made a decision to bring it to a new level this year, in excess of 300 attendees & 32 exhibitors attended the conference. It included consumer groups and technology provider of biomass and Bioenergy. Amongst the speakers were representatives from Diageo, Dairygold, ABP and CPL Industries which are all part of the potential consumers group of energy and are all active in this space – incorporating bioenergy technology and sustainability into their strategic plan and reducing their carbon footprint. Here we had real commercial activity in the sector represented – consumers who are already using the technology and sharing their experiences.

Conor Mc, Conor Molloy (AEMS) Des O’Toole, Simon Shannon (Diageo), Sean Kelly MEP, John Durkan (ABP), Tim Minett (CPL Industries), Dave Fitzgerald (Dairygold)

Tomas Hubert from the Farmer’s Journal commented last week on the weekly podcast that he felt there was more energy in sector than previous years at the conference. We had companies who are less reliant on government schemes, he spoke with Ger Devlin (IrBEA CEO) who emphasised that there has been a lot of activity in last 12 months; we have put considerable work into trying to kick-start the industry in Ireland.  One of our main objectives of the association is to lobby government and seek to influence policy makers and to promote the development of the sector and the interests of our members.

Subsidies are still very relevant says Ger Devlin, SSRH is extremely important, people are more optimistic, they see more opportunities, what we need now is sustainable bioenergy growth for technology providers and suppliers. Implementation of the scheme is critical to boast the sector. Similarly we have the consultation on Biofuel Obligation Scheme (BOS) and the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) coming down the track which will contribute to the decarbonising of our electricity and transport sector.

 

Eamon Ryan (Green Party), Ger Devlin (CEO IrBEA), Kevin Brady (DCCAE)

 

Kevin Brady a Principal Officer in DCCAE spoke at the conference and confirmed expected government support schemes for renewable heat and electricity in the coming 18 months saying they were progressing through the national and EU regulatory process. He added that the Government has committed €300m to fund the Support for Sustainable Renewable Heat Scheme (SSRH) over the next 10 years.

The Government aims to open the scheme in the second half of this year after drafting detailed terms and conditions and obtaining EU state aid approval. The scheme will pay users of large boilers, such as hotels or pig farms, a subsidy to switch to renewable sources including biomass and is expected to increase demand for energy crops.

Biogas from anaerobic digestion may receive support under the scheme later, either for use in combined heat and electricity generators as a separate renewable electricity scheme opens in 2019 or for injection into the national gas grid, Brady said.

Tomas Hubert asked Ger Devlin is there a possibility to bring biogas from remote areas of rural Ireland into urban areas?  Can we really anticipate small suppliers of biogas to supply to the grid? Ger Devlin says Gas Networks Ireland are big advocates of small producers of biogas, in fact the future is biogas to biomethane which can then be used for grid injection. This way you are targeting decarbonisation of transport and the heat sector, especially if the transport sector is moving towards compressed natural gas.

AD also has a big role to play in decarbonising agricultural sector, GNI have a map which specifies where the best locations for injection into the grid will be located. Gas Networks Ireland (GNI) have announced at the conference that it would begin construction of its first injection point for biogas in Cush, Co Kildare, next week and intends to apply for planning permission for a second site in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, by the end of this year.

“The vast majority of what we’re looking at is farm-based anaerobic digestion” to source biogas, said Ian Kilgallon of GNI.

DCCAE did not implement a biomethane subsidy in the recent SSRH, but the department has sent out a call to the industry and have discussed possible solutions with stakeholders.

Tom Hubert said we were definitely presented with companies at the conference from Ireland who were implementing bioenergy activity in other countries. EERL is sourcing biofuels in Hungary and ABP is developing their biofuel business in UK, Bord na Mona are looking to the USA to produce woodchip.  Diageo are building biomass CHP in their distilleries in Scotland. Hubert asked Ger Devlin how do we get these companies to operate in Ireland? Ger said currently the tariffs are better abroad, the RHI and BOS have worked well in the UK and attracted businesses and we hope that with SSRH, BOS and the RESS we can attract some of that business back to Ireland.

In terms of Bord Na Mona who made a presentation on the day there was a clear message of sustainability. They are currently importing woodchip and pellets from overseas, they are however committed to co-firing and they hope to use indigenous biomass supplies over time. They want to engage with landowners here at a local level but right now they still have to co-fire with current levels of supply which means they have a backup plan with import woodchip.

Patrick Madigan, head of Bord na Móna Bioenergy, was cautious however calling for full clarity around the upcoming Support for Sustainable Renewable Heat and for a separate grant scheme for farmers.”Farmers and landowners are struggling with the idea of investing in willow and energy crops,” Madigan said.

 

Patrick Madigan of Bord na Mona (Headline Sponsors) speaking at the Conference 

Peter Moran from the pharma group AbbVie in Sligo was still frustrated at how long it is taking to get the SSRH scheme up and running, he commented that’s it very hard to build renewables into an energy proposal for a company when there has been so much delay in the implementation of the heat scheme.

ABP Food Group’s sustainability manager John Durkan detailed the company’s involvement in renewable energy in the UK, including the recent redevelopment of its Ellesmere factory where animal fat and used cooking oil is collected by its subsidiary Olleco now produce all heat and 70% of electricity requirements.

Dairygold head of sustainability Dave Fitzgerald said that his co-op was planning to increase the share of renewables in the gas supply it already uses to dry milk and produce electricity at its plants. “The existing gas infrastructure is where we see the future,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re looking at the opportunity of using gas in some of our trucks. It’s a more cost-effective solution” he added. While Dairygold already produces biogas by processing waste from its Mitchelstown factory with an anaerobic digester, the co-op will need more waste and is planning to get it from local farms in the future.

A participant to the conference told the Irish Farmers Journal that the event attracted more financiers and lawyers than previous years – a sign that the industry is becoming more attractive to investors. One of them was Garrett Monaghan, a partner in the Dublin-based law firm DWF which helps put together renewable energy projects.

“Bioenergy, and specifically biogas, should play a greater role in Ireland’s electricity supply,” he said, highlighting the planned growth in population, economic activity and electrification of sectors such as transport.

Monaghan cited data centres such as Google’s and Apple’s as large consumers of certified green electricity and said that direct power purchase agreements with such big private buyers would present opportunities until Government schemes were in place to support wider distribution of renewable energy.

 

Garrett Monaghan from DWF (Sponsors) talking at the Conference

We hope everyone enjoyed the day and if anyone would like to look at the speaker presentations again Click here where you will be asked for a password which is “bioenergy18”. We will shortly be uploading videos of the speakers.

Material from this article can found at the following links.

 

 

Support Scheme for Renewable Heat – Opportunities for Sustainable Bioenergy Development in Ireland

Ger Devlin CEO of IrBEA is presenting at the Power Summit on Tuesday 30 January in Croke Park, he will be speaking in the Heat: Policy and Heat Initiative Session at 11.15am. His presentation ‘Support Scheme for Renewable Heat Opportunities for Sustainable Bioenergy Development in Ireland’  will discuss the recent announcement on the SSRH, which is a very welcome development for the bioenergy sector in Ireland, one that has been stagnant for almost 5 years since 2013. There will be new opportunities now to stimulate growth for businesses in the biomass supply side and indeed for the biomass technology provider of which we have many as members of the Irish Bioenergy Association. As well as helping to meet the EU heat targets of 12% (currently 6.8%) by 2020 it will play a role in reducing potential fines come 2020. This session will present how the tiered rates are going to work and what opportunities exist for industry to make the switch to greener heat and power using biomass.

A Network of 70 Compressed Natural Gas Filling Stations Announced for Ireland

The development of 70 compressed natural gas filling stations in Ireland to service trucks, vans and buses has been announced. The network will be provided under the European Causeway Project, and establishing it will be overseen by scientists at NUI Galway and Gas Networks Ireland (GNI). Use of compressed natural gas is increasing being adopted for heavier modes of transport, and comes with green credentials – notably low carbon emissions – and cheaper running costs compared to traditional fossil fuels such as diesel. NUIG will monitor the project, and its research will be fed back to gas operators throughout Europe, and assist in development of similar projects across the continent. The €25 million Causeway project, which supports green energy development, has received €6.5 million in co-funding from the European Commission. View Irish Times article here