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.

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

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.

Renewable Heat Incentive – Closer Than Ever Before

Press Release 2017/12

The Irish Bioenergy Association welcomes the introduction of the long awaited Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) today by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD. An RHI scheme was first officially conceived as part of the Bioenergy strategy consultation in May 2013, and formally announced in the October 2014 Draft Bioenergy Plan but was never delivered. After much lobbying activities and design consultations by IrBEA and other players in the bioenergy sector in the interim, the biomass industry will now see an RHI scheme live in 2018.
“This is a very welcome development for the bioenergy sector in Ireland, one that has been stagnant for almost 5 years since 2013 whereby many Irish companies have subsequently gone out of business. There will be new opportunities now to stimulate growth for those businesses in the biomass supply side and indeed 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. It is perhaps disappointing not see any support for biomethane gas grid injection from AD in this phase but there are still supports for AD heating technologies and of course biomass heating technologies which is a positive. Certainly the ambition to have a scheme open to applicants in 2018 is welcome, but this Government approval is still subject to EU state aid approval. The tiered rates are generally positive but they do not favour the larger type installations offering a subsidy of only 0.05 c/kWh which is where the biggest opportunity exists to close the gap in the renewable heat target” says Ger Devlin IrBEA CEO.
The scheme will support the adoption of renewable heating systems by commercial, industrial, district heating and other non-domestic heat users at sites not covered by the emissions trading scheme. There are also installation grants available up to 30% for the installation of heat pumps. A separate budget would be favoured for such a grant scheme.

About the Irish Bioenergy Association

Dr Ger Devlin is CEO of the Irish Bioenergy Association. 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

Links
DCCAE Press Release on RHI (7 December) here
New €1bn Renewable Heat Scheme Unveiled for Irish firms – Irish Times  (7 December) here

ENDS

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar Visits the Clonroche Biomass Processing Hub in Co. Wexford

Photo: IrBEA President Des O’Toole with An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, Paul Kehoe TD, Andrew Doyle TD and Michael D’Arcy TD visiting a Biomass Processing Hub in Wexford
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar visited the Clonroche biomass processing hub in Co. Wexford on Sunday 5th November. This hub, operated by T&A Byrne Renewables, services a range of commercial and industrial scale biomass energy clients for both Coillte and Clearpower in the South East and uses predominantly Coillte and the gradually emerging private sector log resource for its supply of biomass. Coillte and Clearpower are both longstanding members of IrBEA.
An Taoiseach, along with his colleagues, Paul Kehoe TD, Andrew Doyle TD and Michael D’Arcy TD saw first-hand the contribution a regional processing hub of this scale makes to the local economy as well as hearing the many benefits in terms of displacing imported fossil fuel, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mobilising Ireland’s forestry resources. The hub comprises of a large secure log storage yard and fuel storage sheds. Coillte logs are sourced and delivered on a pre-planned basis several months in advance. The logs are systematically stacked for open air drying down to the target moisture content. The processing hub, established by T&A Byrne is one of the largest supply hubs of its kind in the country.
One of the processing hub’s major Coillte clients is Glaxosmithkline (GSK) and their use of woody biomass displaces millions of litres of oil annually. GSK is a science-led global healthcare company that develops a range of medicines, vaccines and consumer healthcare products. For GSK, investing in a biomass plant supports their global carbon reduction objectives and a long term commitment to the Dungarvan site and the local employment it underpins. With Coillte as an exemplar energy supply partner for this project, GSK are further committed to protecting resources and safeguarding the environment.

Biogas and Anaerobic Digestion Trade Mission at the German Irish Chamber

Ger Devlin (IrBEA CEO) gave the opening address at the Biogas and Anaerobic Digestion Trade Mission at the German Irish Chamber of Commerce and Industry 2 weeks ago. There were over 100 participants, many Irish companies took the opportunity to organise formal meeting with visiting German companies working in the Biogas sector. The presentations can be accessed here

RHI in #Budget2018 – How Does it Look?

Budget2018 has seen the launch of €17M for the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme. €7M is to go towards the first phase of the RHI with the remainder seemingly marked for further uptake of electric vehicles. While at this stage exact details or specifics are not clear this does not send out a very positive signal to the bioenergy industry in Ireland and is perhaps a nudge in the wrong direction. Is this the same €7M that was allocated for the RHI in #Budget2017? It certainly looks like it as that €7M was never spent on any RHI.

An RHI scheme was first officially conceived as part of the Bioenergy strategy consultation in May 2013, and formally announced in the October 2014 Draft Bioenergy Plan. There has been a significant impact of carrying on with business as usual over recent years. Approximately 550 toe (tonnes of oil equivalent) of additional fossil fuels are burnt each day as the policy is being developed. Since 2014 c. 800,000 toe have been avoidably consumed. There is also a negative social and economic impact associated with business as usual. There are many bioenergy businesses that have ceased to exist due to industry stagnation since 2008. Many skilled people have applied themselves to other technologies or other jurisdictions to make ends meet.

At a time when the Government is in a big race against time to avoid a potential fine of at least €610m from the EU for failing to hit renewables targets. 2017 looked set to be a defining year for the country’s energy sector and the clock is ticking faster than perhaps the Government would like. At this stage 2017 has come and gone. If Ireland fails to meet an overall binding target of generating 16% of renewables composed of electricity (40%), heat (12%) and transport (10%) within three years, a penalty of up to €120m will be imposed by the European Commission for every 1% the State falls below this target. It is currently set at 8.6% so quite a path to travel. By 2030 the target is set at 27% renewables with even greater fines being proposed.

Minister Naughten is under pressure to implement policies to help avoid or reduce the potential bill facing Irish taxpayers and he has failed to listen to the advice of the bioenergy industry in Ireland. Instead of paying €610M in fines to EC, surely these potential fines would be better spent implementing and approving budgets for new policies such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Minister Naughten thinks that the bioenergy industry in Ireland is sound and secure. The disasater that was REFIT 3 is testament of this with a low uptake, wrong strike price and burdensome administration. The RHI needed to be launched with more conviction to enstill confidence back into bioenergy.

The European Commission has highlighted the country’s unimpressive status by ranking Ireland 23rd out of 28 member states for renewable energy. Critics of the Government’s strategy on renewable electricity blame Ireland for having relied too heavily on onshore wind to reach its targets. This is testified by how many days Ireland can run on bioenergy which is currently only 13 while Sweden can last 132 days and Finland 121 days.

Socio Economic Impacts of an RHI Scheme that may be lost due to delays include New investment in biomass heating of over €220M. Annual spend of over €77m on operation and maintenance. €1.5 billion of direct investment into the Irish economy. Reducing Ireland’s energy import bill by 7.5%. Matching locally grown biomass with local energy demand will support 3600 new jobs. RHI will displace €120M/year of imported fossil fuel and encourage indigenous security of supply.

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

Wood Fuel Association Conference UK – IRBEA CEO Presents on RHI

Ger Devlin was presenting at the Wood Heat Association Conference in the UK on the 21 & 22 November in Dorking. He will be talking about the Irish RHI schemes and the industry’s expectations going forward.

WHA are the UK trade association for the modern biomass heating industry. They bring together wood fuel suppliers, biomass boiler and stove installers and distributors, energy companies and developers.  See the agenda lineup here

Press Release – IrBEA Response To Energy White Paper Launch

The Irish Bioenergy Association welcomes the publication of the Energy White Paper by Minister Alex White

As a strategy it is an ambitious plan to achieve important targets for renewable energy.
The weakness in the plan is the ability to convert this ambition into action. For example, a renewable heat incentive was promised since May 2014, and at the earliest this will commence at end of 2016. This long roll-out has resulted in market stagnation.
The report accurately points out that Bioenergy has the potential to create 5000 jobs as well as reducing our carbon emissions, however these benefits can not be fully realised unless the proposed policy measures are promptly implemented.
The transition to sustainable energy sources is a massive undertaking. We are calling on the Minister to follow today’s launch by:

1. Bolstering his department with the necessary resources to undertake this challenge.
2. Fastracking proposed support schemes for renewable heat and electricity.
For further information contact
Michael Hegarty 087-0556630
IrBEA General Manager