Jump-start bioenergy in Budget 2023 to buttress energy security – IrBEA

For Immediate Release:

23/09/2022

Jump-start bioenergy in Budget 2023 to buttress energy security – IrBEA

Globally, over two thirds of renewable energy comes from bioenergy. This is over ten times the energy generated from both wind and solar. Budget 2023 is Government’s opportunity to recognise Irish bioenergy’s potential to buttress energy security and for it to announce dedicated incentives to jump-start the Irish bioenergy industry. Bioenergy sources and technology are proven globally, they are available here and now, and it’s high time for action.

Seán Finan, Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) CEO said: “We desperately need all renewable technologies and fuels. European and global bioenergy deployment is driven by dedicated policy supports, incentives and measures. The bioenergy industry in Ireland is still waiting for its full potential to be realised by the Government. Favourable Irish policy measures in recent years for wind and solar have helped develop those sectors. This budget presents the Government with an opportunity to announce measures which support the mobilisation of bioenergy. Bioenergy can significantly contribute to energy security and reduce Ireland’s dependence on volatile and record high-priced fossil fuels. The contribution of Irish-sourced and produced bioenergy, for energy security that’s sustainable can no longer be ignored.

‘Anaerobic digestion’ was almost a mantra in media interviews and on talk-shows for a few heady weeks of summer. It’s time now for the Government to act on that. Bioenergy covers a broad range of sustainable, renewable, indigenous energy alternatives available here on our doorstep. A mainstream Irish biogas/biomethane industry (using anaerobic digestion technology) mobilised on a phased basis would reduce our dependence on fossil gas. The REPowerEU policy demands it. Mobilising the solid biomass resource can contribute to renewable heat. Increased blending rates of liquid biofuels has both emissions’ reduction and fossil fuel displacement benefits. Over the last few weeks, IrBEA, on behalf of members, has lobbied in advance of the budget on the issues impacting our members in the bioenergy sector. IrBEA is calling for a mixture of supports, policy announcements and practical issues to be addressed in the Budget and Finance Act which are impacting our industry and members.

Finan continued “Bioenergy is thriving across Europe. Why is the Irish Government an outlier and not embracing this opportunity also? The EU Commission identifies that the member state with the largest potential growth for biogas / biomethane production is Ireland. Yet to date, we have had mainly Government inaction or inertia in realising this potential. In challenging times, it is vital to exploit all proven opportunities to tackle climate change and enable security of energy supply.”

Despite the fact that Ireland has a natural advantage in producing bioenergy due to our mild climate and fertile land, Ireland ranks bottom of the EU table in terms of its generation and use of renewable heat. We now have a unique opportunity to build a significant industry with multiple benefits using solid, liquid and gaseous bioenergy.

Finan concluded “While our focus is on using bioenergy in the transition away from fossil fuels, we acknowledge that building a sustainable economic and social recovery should also embrace related renewable technologies as well achieving the development of sustainable materials and the protection of our ecosystems. Essentially, we need to marshal a wide range of technologies and renewable fuels to decarbonise the energy sector across heat, transport and electricity. This will provide opportunities for many, including farmers and foresters through farm diversification and development of alternative enterprises, development of rural jobs and addressing the climate changes and emissions challenges faced by the country. The budget is an opportunity to jump-start bioenergy, buttress energy supply, and realise all this other potential with it.”

ENDS.

For Further Information Contact: Seán Finan IrBEA CEO on 087 4146480

Notes to Editors:
Summary of IrBEA’s Bioenergy budget measures include:

1. Mobilising an Irish Biogas/Biomethane Industry:
Introduction of a Biogas / biomethane support scheme to mobilise an Irish biogas industry on a phased basis. The biogas / biomethane industry needs to be mobilised with policy, incentives, measures and supports similar to what is happening across Europe.
In the current environment of high fossil energy prices and challenges around energy security there should be no further delay in giving market certainty and supporting the development of the industry.

2. Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH):
Budget provision for widespread roll out of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) in 2023 and rapid resolution of administrative implementation issues with the scheme. These issues are severely impacting on the schemes potential to contribute to national renewable heat and greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. The Minister and SEAI need to ensure that dedicated resources are assigned to assist with the efficient administration and implementation of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) programme.

3. Carbon Tax:
Despite record fossil energy prices, the carbon tax increase should proceed by a minimum of €10/tonne in the budget, provided effective measures are in implemented to protect vulnerable members of society potentially exposed to fuel poverty. Revenue generated from carbon tax increases should  provide support for the development of bioenergy and a biogas / biomethane industry in Ireland on a phased and sustainable basis.

4. Provision in Finance Act – Revenue treatment of Biomass Equipment:
Provision be made in the Finance Act for the revenue treatment of biomass chipping and related equipment to be the same as the treatment of other mobile machinery such as mobile cranes and concrete pumping equipment. This is specially related to using rebated fuel, registration of overweight vehicles and tachograph usage.

5. Biofuel Obligation Scheme:
As per the Biofuel Obligation Scheme (BOS), biofuels are blended with petrol and diesel available at the forecourt. We call for the immediate increase of blending rates to E10 (10% Ethanol) petrol blend and B12 (12% Biodiesel) diesel blend in Ireland. This would increase the blending rates from the current substitution rates of E5 for petrol and B7 for Diesel.

6. Grant Scheme for Eco Design Heating Appliances:
The National home retrofit scheme is ambitious but challenged due to the high costs, availability of labour & materials and disruption to individuals. While successful for some households, the programmes dedication to the energy efficiency first principal has led it to be unsuitable, costly and disruptive for a large proportion of the population. While we support the energy efficiency first principal where it can be economically viable to pursue, decarbonisation is the priority in the short term. This means looking at fuel use and heating technologies. We call for the introduction in this budget of a grant scheme to support the transition from fossil fuel appliances to eco-design compliant biomass appliances at a residential level. This will support an energy transition to the use of cleaner, energy efficient appliances which will contribute to greenhouse gas emissions savings, and rural employment.

7. Energy Crop Support Scheme:
That the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine make provision in their budget for the introduction of support for the energy crop sector. The Irish Bioenergy Association believes that this is an effective way of providing additional indigenous biomass for the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) installations, provides an alternative farm enterprise, potentially reduce livestock number, promoting the bioeconomy, rural development, and sustainable jobs.

8. Forestry Programme Implementation Resources:
We support the calls by the forest industry for financial provision be made for increased staff and specialist resourcing in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to address forestry licensing issues and backlog.

9. Financial Instruments and Loans Interest Loans:
Introduce financial instruments to assist of Renewable technologies such as:
Expand the capital investment to build district heating networks via the climate action fund.
Introduce a low cost guaranteed loan facility through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SCBI) or similar for the development of bioenergy renewable project similar to the SCBI Future Growth Loan Scheme introduced for the farming sector a few years ago.

Notes to Editors:

What is Bioenergy?
Bioenergy can be defined as any form of energy that is derived from living organisms, either
plant or animal. It encompasses a wide range of different types and origins. It can take the form of solid, liquid or gaseous fuel and can be used to provide renewable energy across a variety of sectors including heating, electricity generation and transport sectors.

What are the different forms of Bioenergy?
• Solid biofuels and wood fuels: Wood pellet, woodchip, energy crops, firewood and biomass briquettes
• Gaseous Biofuels: Biogas and Biomethane
• Liquid Biofuels: Bioethanol, Biodiesel, Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil and Bio-oil

About the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA)
IrBEA was founded in 1999. Its role is to promote the bioenergy industry and to develop this important sector on the island of Ireland. The diverse membership includes farmers and foresters, fuel suppliers, energy development companies, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, engineers, financiers and tax advisers, legal firms, consultants, planners, research organisations, local authorities, education, and advisory bodies – anyone with an interest in the bioenergy industry. IrBEA is recognised by Government and agencies as the voice of the bioenergy industry. The association’s main objectives are to influence policy makers to promote the development of bioenergy, and to promote the interests of members. Improving public awareness, networking, and information sharing, and liaising with similar interest groups are other key areas of work in promoting bioenergy as an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable energy. Further information on the association is available at www.irbea.org

IrBEA 21st National Bioenergy Conference – Tuesday 11th October 2022

The Irish Bioenergy Association 21st National Bioenergy Conference will take place on Tuesday 11th October at the Lyrath Estate Hotel in Kilkenny.

We are delighted to announce that Bord na Móna have kindly  agreed to be the Headline Sponsors of this event. We also very grateful to Ethanol Europe to step in as a Co-sponsor to this event.

Headline Sponsor

 We look forward to welcoming IrBEA members and a diverse range of stakeholders to this event. We have a strong line up of  leading, influential speakers for the day that including: Paul Deane (MaREI), Marie Donnelly (Chairperson on the Climate Advisory Council), Laura Burke (EPA), Rowena Dwyer (Enterprise Ireland) and Stephen Blewitt (Aurivo Co-operative). More will be announced over the coming days.

This year’s conference will focus on the need to accelerate the uptake of bioenergy technology deployment in Ireland. IrBEA acknowledges that most larger businesses and new start-ups are aware of their responsibilities to be more sustainable and energy efficient. At this year’s conference, IrBEA wants to promote the role bioenergy can play in this transition from fossil fuels, helping businesses reduce costs, improve energy security, reduce supply chain risks, reduce carbon footprints, and improve company sustainability ratings.

The event is targeted at a range of interested parties including: bioenergy project developers, utility providers, policymakers, political representatives, financiers, large energy users, businesses, engineers, landowners and environmental groups. Attendees value the opportunity to meet those actively involved in the bioenergy sector, to extend their network and make new contacts. It is also a chance to hear about latest developments, successful projects and case studies in the sector.

We will also be offering sponsorship opportunities, further details can be found on the event website. If you would like to discuss this further with us, please contact Teresa O’Brien at 0861256709  teresaobrien@irbea.org or Seán Finan at seanfinan@irbea.org.

Conference website https//.nationalbioenergyconference.ie

Delegate tickets and trade stands https://irbeaconference22.eventbrite.ie

Co-Sponsors

PRESS RELEASE:  IrBEA launches bioenergy factsheet series

Pictured launching the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) factsheet series are L to R: Paddy Phelan 3CEA CEO and IrBEA President, Minister of State Pippa Hackett and Seán Finan IrBEA CEO.

Immediate Release: 01/09/2022

Pictured launching the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) factsheet series are L to R: Paddy Phelan 3CEA CEO and IrBEA President, Minister of State Pippa Hackett and Seán Finan IrBEA CEO.

The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) launches the bioenergy factsheet series today. The aim of the factsheet series is to provide information to a wide range of stakeholders on the various forms and aspects of bioenergy. The titles in the series to date are:

  • Bioenergy – An Overview
  • Wood and Solid Biomass Fuels
  • Biogas
  • Biofuels
  • Biochar
  • Energy Crops

Seán Finan, CEO of the Irish Bioenergy Association said  “We are delighted to launch our bioenergy factsheet series as a knowledge transfer and information resource for the promotion of the different bioenergy sectors. While other renewable energies are easier for the public to comprehend (e.g. wind or solar), bioenergy is made up of a wide range of technologies and fuels and can be utilised to provide heat, electricity, and transport fuels.”

Bioenergy makes up 67.2% of all renewable energy across the world. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognises that bioenergy represents the largest current contributor to renewable energy and is likely to remain that way for at least the first half of this century. Bioenergy has a strong role in carbon removal and reduction of emissions, as well as in the development of bioenergy-based fuel alternatives for fossil fuels. Bioenergy can complement the food, fibre, and forestry product sectors. In Ireland, bioenergy requires investment, support and the right policy measures to be in place, to ensure the continued sustainability of the sector.

Paddy Phelan IrBEA President said: “The factsheets and the ongoing work of IrBEA in each of the sectors covered is particularly relevant in the current crisis of high fossil energy prices, security of energy supply, urgent need for decarbonisation and climate action. The Irish bioenergy sector is unique in that it can provide an indigenous energy solution to all the current challenges. Bioenergy can produce continuous, storable, and dispatchable renewable energy delivered through local supply chains, offering employment opportunities and economic activity.”

 

ENDS

For Further Information please contact Seán Finan IrBEA CEO on 087-4146480

Webinar 34 – Bioenergy: Launching IrBEA’s Factsheet Series

A recording of this webinar can be found HERE.

Topic Overview
Over the last few months, the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) has worked on developing a series of factsheets covering the main bioenergy sectors. The first six factsheets were presented on this webinar by the Executive team and can be viewed on the IrBEA website HERE.

The titles include:

  • Bioenergy – An Overview
  • Wood and Solid Biomass Fuels
  • Biogas
  • Biofuels
  • Biochar
  • Energy Crops

The aim of the factsheet series is to provide information to a wide range of stakeholders on the various forms and aspects of bioenergy. While other renewable energies are easier for the public to comprehend (e.g., wind or solar), bioenergy is made up of a wide range of technologies and fuels and can be utilised to provide heat, electricity, and transport fuels.

The IrBEA executive team present the factsheets and ongoing work of the association in each of the sectors covered. This is particularly relevant in the current crisis of high fossil energy prices, security of energy supply, urgent need for decarbonisation and climate action. The Irish bioenergy sector is unique in that it can provide an indigenous energy solution to all the current challenges. Bioenergy can produce continuous, storable, and dispatchable renewable energy delivered through local supply chains, offering employment opportunities and economic activity.

 

PRESS RELEASE: IrBEA outlines urgency for Government policy to mobilise biogas / biomethane industry at Joint Oireachtas Committee

Immediate Release: 07/07/2022   PRESS RELEASE:

IrBEA outlines urgency for Government policy to mobilise biogas / biomethane industry at Joint Oireachtas Committee

This week at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action, the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) outlined the urgency to introduce policies and supports to mobilise an Irish biomethane industry. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a proven technology used worldwide at many different scales.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Committee, Seán Finan, CEO of the Irish Bioenergy Association said: “Biogas production from AD technology is mainstream across Europe and worldwide. There are over 20,000 operational AD plants around the EU, and several million across the world. Ireland is far behind its EU counterparts in policy development terms and utilising this technology, with currently approximately 20 AD plants in operation in Ireland.”

In 2017, an EU Commission report titled “An assessment of the potential of biogas from anaerobic digestion in the EU beyond 2020” identifies that the member state with the largest potential for growth of biogas production is Ireland.

Noel Gavigan, Technical Executive at IrBEA said: “Anaerobic digestion complements and delivers on EU policies such as the Farm to Fork strategy. The recent RePowerEU report sets an EU target of 35Billion m3 of Biomethane by 2030. There is a significant opportunity for Ireland to contribute to this and a dedicated Irish AD biogas/biomethane policy is required to maximise the opportunity and potential for Ireland.”

The development of an Irish biomethane industry can present many opportunities for Ireland. The lack of progress in developing an Irish biogas/biomethane industry is a missed opportunity for Ireland’s economy.

Noel Gavigan continued: “This technology can bring many benefits including energy security, de-carbonisation, alternative farm enterprises, reduced emissions from agriculture, enhancing biodiversity, developing the circular and bioeconomy, improved water quality, rural development and job creation.”

The gap between cost of production of biogas / biomethane and the market return has closed in recent times with the increased fossil energy prices.

Seán Finan concluded: “This cost gap must be bridged through Government policy, support, incentives, and measures. Current policy measures such as the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) provide good incentives for solid biomass with significant opportunities to broaden and enhance the existing support for biogas. Planned policy measures like the proposed Renewable Heat Obligation (RHO) must be put in place immediately to encourage rapid transition from fossil fuels to indigenously produced biogas, biomass, and other fuels. IrBEA strongly encourages the Oireachtas committee to promote the immediate launch of this obligation.”

Midlands Bioenergy Development Project in-person launch in Moate

Tuar Ard Arts and Enterprise Centre, Moate, Co Westmeath was the venue for the in-person launch of the Midlands Bioenergy Development Project on 22nd June 2022. The Midlands Bioenergy Development Project is co-ordinated by the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) and co-funded by the National Just Transition Fund for the Midlands region. Minister for Land-use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett officiated at the launch and gave the keynote address on behalf of the government. Just Transition Commissioner, Mr Kieran Mulvey, spoke about what the Just Transition seeks to deliver for the region. More localised events will take place around the Midlands in the autumn so that the project can engage directly with potential bioenergy start-up enterprises that could benefit from knowledge transfer, training and mentoring from the project.

From left: Mr Tom Shanahan, Offaly Co Co; Ms Sarah Morgan, Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan; Kieran Mulvey, Just Transition Commissioner; Minister for Land-use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett; Mr Paddy Phelan, President, IrBEA; Mr Pádraic Ó hUiginn, Project Executive, Midlands Bioenergy Development Plan, IrBEA; Mr Seán Finan, CEO, IrBEA; Mr Pat Gallagher, CEO, Westmeath Co Co; Noel Gavigan, Technical Executive, IrBEA; and Dr Isabella Donnelly, Regional Coordinator and Westmeath County Mentor, SEAI Sustainable Energy Communities.

 

Launch of New Wood Fuel Quality Assurance animation

This week we see the launch of the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance animation on the sustainability role of wood fuels in forest management. The focus of this three minute animation is the healthy, working forests providing timber, thinnings for wood fuel, carbon sinks, habitats, public amenity & enterprise for Irish communities. We are excited to promote a positive message on Irish forestry and spread the work about the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance Scheme. Please take 3 minutes to watch this new animation. It can also be view and shared in YouTube HERE

PRESS RELEASE: IrBEA hosts photo launch for the JTF Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme

 

Press Release – Immediate Release 26/01/2022IrBEA hosts photo launch for the JTF Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme
The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) recently complete a launch photograph with Minister of State, Senator Pippa Hackett for its Just Transition Fund (JTF) Project ‘The Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme.’

Speaking at the photo launch, Mr Sean Finan, CEO of IrBEA, said: “We are delighted to complete our photo launch of the IrBEA Just Transition funded Project with Minister Hackett. The Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme has been designed to provide training, mentoring, technical support, and advice to those interested in exploring the development of new bioenergy-based businesses in the midlands. The project will support the establishment of bioenergy businesses and link producers, processing business, energy users and investors.”

Under the National Just Transition Fund, administered by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), granted projects will seek to develop innovative projects which will lead to economic, environmental, and social sustainability for the Midlands region as it shifts away from the model of peat harvesting and use to a low carbon society with alternative employment opportunities within the catchment areas. The counties that are covered within the Just Transition Programme area and this project are East Galway, Kildare, Laois, Longford, North Tipperary, Offaly, Roscommon, and Westmeath.

Stephen McCormack, Project Executive with IrBEA said “The bioenergy sector encompasses many different possibilities for those looking to develop their own business, reskill and to find new employment opportunities. Bioenergy can be anything from the development of wood fuels such as wood chip, firewood or pellets, the growth of dedicated energy crops and biogas, biofuels, or biochar production. We will be kicking off the project activities in the coming months with a formal launch event and hosting a series of information and awareness events throughout the Midlands region.”

The project will assess the potential feedstocks and energy demand within the various counties of the JTF catchment as well as assessing the skills and training needs of interested parties. The project will design and rollout a knowledge transfer programme through the provision of training, mentoring, technical guidance, and advice for those looking to develop fully fledged bioenergy related businesses.

Finan concluded “Bioenergy is responsible for doing the heavy lifting in terms of all the various renewable energy technologies worldwide. By supporting those looking to transition into this sector, local employment opportunities can be provided. This will help keep the economic activity generated within the locality and more importantly, reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels and improving energy security. We look forward to engaging with former peat and power industry workers, farmers, foresters, SMEs, energy users and individuals within the region as they transition towards a sustainable low carbon energy future.”

To assist in the delivery of the Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme, IrBEA are currently recruiting a Project Executive. Full details can be found on the IrBEA website or via the link:
https://www.irbea.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/4-IrBEA-Project-Executive-Recruitment-Jan-2021-Job-Specification-Updated..pdf

ENDS

For Further Information Please contact Seán Finan IrBEA CEO on 0874146480

 

PRESS RELEASE: CAP Strategic Plan must contain provision for Bioenergy measures – IrBEA

The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) highlighted in its recent consultation response, the need for the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) Strategic Plan to contain provision for Bioenergy measures.

For Immediate Release: 22/09/2021
Seán Finan, CEO at IrBEA said “the Bioenergy sector has a significant role to play in addressing some of the key challenges and opportunities that farmers, foresters and the broader agricultural industry face. This should be recognised in the drafting of the Irish CAP Strategic Plan. Bioenergy has a considerable role to play in decarbonisation and the emissions reduction efforts of agriculture through development and mobilisation of energy crop, biomass and biogas industries. The sector can drive improvement in water quality through the use of biochar as a filter media. Biochar can also be used as a soil and slurry enhancer and  animal feed additive. Biogas as a fuel can decarbonise heating and vehicles. Chemical fertiliser can be displaced with digestate from biogas production. Wood fuel production through the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) scheme is currently providing a market for thinning material as part of sustainable forest management.”

The CAP Strategic Plan should facilitate the development of various aspects of Bioenergy through the following measures:

European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI) Operational Groups: Enhance, develop and increase the budgetary allocation from the current provision for the further growth of the European Innovation Partnership Project model. IrBEA is the lead partner on a current EIP project called the “Small Biogas Demonstration Programme” which is investigating the deployment of small scale biogas facilities on farms. This form of research and development is important to bring together a range of interested parties including farmers, technical specialists and researchers to find innovative and practical solutions to common issues at farm level.

Knowledge Transfer Programme: IrBEA would like to see flexibility within the design of the proposed Knowledge Transfer Programme to accommodate Bioenergy based focused Knowledge Transfer groups. These groups could comprise of farmers, foresters and technical advisors covering such area as: energy crops, wood fuels, biogas development and forestry etc.

On-farm Capital Investment SchemeConsider broadening the proposed Capital Investment Scheme to potentially facilitate Forester, Farmers and Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’S) who would like to develop infrastructure such as drying sheds, chipping equipment and weighing equipment to process and mobilise wood fuels from the private forestry estate, biomass crops and energy crops.

Finan concluded “inclusion of provision for bioenergy in the CAP Strategic Plan measures would be a positive development for the sector. It would recognise the significant role  that the bioenergy sector has to play in the decarbonisation and emissions reduction efforts of farming and the broader agriculture industry. We look forward to engaging with the Minister and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine officials to discuss the role of bioenergy in delivering on the overall CAP Strategic Plan objectives.”

ENDS

For Further Information Please contact Seán Finan IrBEA CEO on 0874146480