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

PRESS RELEASE: IrBEA Cautiously Welcomes New Standards for Domestic Solid Fuels

Immediate Release: 07/09/2021

Following several years of lobbying for the regulation of wood fuels, the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) cautiously welcome Minister Ryan’s announcement on New Standards for Domestic Solid Fuels. The new regulations set a standard for wood moisture levels, ensuring that wood fuel is clean burning and efficient for the householder.

Noel Gavigan, Technical Executive at IrBEA said “the introduction of a 25% limit on fuel moisture content, later to be reduced to 20%, is a welcome development for the market. Through the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) scheme which we administer, we already have several dozen wood fuel suppliers in the Irish market that only produce fuel to the 25% moisture content standard. WFQA certified wood fuels at this low moisture are of great benefit to the customer in terms of efficiency, heat generation and clean burning.”

IrBEA is concerned over one aspect of the proposed public awareness campaign. Which states “Ask yourself: Do I need to light a fire? – Use other cleaner heating sources instead if possible.”  The new proposed public awareness campaign suggests that consumers should question the use of a fire to heat their home.

Mr Gavigan continued “this proposed element “do I need to light a fire?” sends a confusing message to the general public. Any campaign rolled out by the department should encourage people to move away from open fires and fossil fuels and use more efficient and renewable heating sources rather than questioning if they should light a fire in the first place. For many a fire is the only heating option available. The department through any awareness campaign should encourage consumers to use Eco-design wood fired appliances as a replacement to open fired fossil systems.”

IrBEA looks forward to engaging further with the Department as they develop these proposals to regulate the domestic solid fuel market and discussing the range of options available to homeowners to decarbonise their heating systems where retrofit is prohibitive for various reasons.

Sean Finan, CEO of IrBEA concluded “The success of the proposed solid fuel regulations implementation will ultimately depend on the level of resources dedicated to its enforcement and regular monitoring of compliance. This needs to be backed up by an effective campaign which encourages consumers to make the move away from fossil fuels sources to renewable options. Wood fuels offer homeowners with an opportunity to decarbonise their home heating systems very quickly. This needs to be encouraged through government supports and incentives as for many homeowners, the cost of deep-retrofitting is financially and logistically prohibitive.

 

ENDS

For Further Information Please contact Seán Finan IrBEA CEO on 087414648

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About the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance Scheme (WFQA) 

The WFQA scheme is an all island scheme established to increase consumer confidence in wood fuel products sold in Ireland. The WFQA is managed and administered by the Irish Bioenergy Association with some financial assistance from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The WFQA certifies firewood, woodchip, wood pellet and wood briquette suppliers to ensure compliance with EN ISO 17225 standard. As WFQA grows,  members will provide consumers with a greater degree of confidence in secure supply of quality certified wood fuel products around Ireland. Further information available at www.wfqa.org

PRESS RELEASE: Enhanced Irish research and development required on biochar for its potential to be realised- IrBEA

For Immediate Release
01/09/2021

Biochar production and use is an emerging opportunity in Ireland that needs to be embraced for its full benefit to be realised in addressing a series of challenges across many of our sectors. Biochar could benefit the forestry, agricultural and environmental sectors as a soil remediator, a slow-release fertiliser, a filtration medium, an animal feed additive, a potential peat replacement and as a carbon sink to name but a few.

Stephen McCormack, Project Executive with the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) said:” While levels of research into biochar and its various applications are increasing, much more is needed for its widescale production and use to be realised. We call on National authorities, research and funding bodies to take this opportunity seriously by providing greatly enhanced funding and resources to further explore and understand biochar’s uses and applications in an Irish context.”

Biochar can be produced from indigenous biomass including food processing waste, woody biomass, fibrous grassy material or from a variety of sludges or manures. Biochar production is accessible at many scales and equipment can vary in size and complexity, depending on output required.

McCormack continued: “Biochar is increasingly being used in different applications across many industries. Its porous nature, large surface area, surface chemistry, ability to bind with different substances and adsorption capacity makes it a very versatile and useful material. All these properties need to be further investigated in an Irish context through funded research and development projects.”

Biochar makes a useful tool for binding with nutrients and water in the soil, allowing for their retention. Farmers can add it to slurry, manure and composting processes, aiding in the reduction of fugitive emissions and odorous compounds. It can be used as an additive for animal bedding, poultry litter and animal feed. These applications have the added benefit of increasing the carbon content of the material that gets composted, land spread or incorporated into the soil. Biochar, in the form of activated carbon, is showing promise in water and wastewater treatment. Biochar filters on farms can reduce nutrient run off and reduce the risk of eutrophication.

Seán Finan, CEO of IrBEA, said “Biochar production can play a part in many sectors and also in the provision of renewable heat. In the thermal conversion, through pyrolysis, of biomass to biochar, you end up with a valuable solid product in the biochar, but also a usable source of renewable heat. The phrase combined heat and biochar has been used to describe this set up and needs to be developed further.”

McCormack concluded: “IrBEA and a number of its members are actively involved in the biochar space for the past number of years. Biochar is now commercially available here. IrBEA has shown leadership through projects such as the current Interreg funded THREE C project. We have been engaging with those involved in the research and development of this sector, not only here, but across Europe. Ireland has a growing number of biochar producers and end users. The appetite strongly exists for enhanced research and development to facilitate the further growth of the sector. It is an interesting time to be involved in the biochar space. IrBEA are open to working with those interested in collaboration for the development of the sector here in Ireland on behalf of our members.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For more information, please contact stephenmccormack@irbea.org
Phone: 0874403242

What is Biochar?
• High carbon content solid material made by heating biomass in the absence of oxygen in process called pyrolysis.
• Can be made from a wide variety of biomass, which once converted thermally, are recalcitrant or extremely stable, meaning it won’t decompose potentially for hundreds of years.
• Being highly porous, it makes an excellent adsorbent. One gramme of powdered biochar can have a surface area of anywhere between 10 and 500 meters squared. This makes it an excellent filtration medium.
• Biochar was highlighted by the 2018 report by the (IPCC) intergovernmental panel on climate change as being a promising Negative Emissions Technology, meaning it has potential to draw down and sequester atmospheric carbon.
• It shows great potential as a soil improver, increasing carbon content and providing habitats for beneficial soil microbiology.
• Biochar production facilities increasingly involved in voluntary carbon removal markets.
• Modern production facilities will have a way to utilise the excess thermal energy produced, increasing efficiencies (as process heat or district heating networks as an example).
• IrBEA counts among its membership, biomass suppliers, bulk biochar producers, pyrolysis technology providers and developers, animal feed additive producers, soil & plant feed additive producers, activated carbon specialists and biochar analytics.

About THREE C
• THREE C (Creating the Circular Carbon Economy) is a three-year Interreg Northwest Europe funded project that runs from January 2020 to December 2022.
• It is being led by the University of Kassel in Germany
• It has a total budget of €5.62 million and 13 project partners and sub partners spread over the 6 participating countries which are Germany, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Wales, and Ireland.
• It is focused on the circular economy and innovation based on carbon feedstocks and is the follow up project to the recently finished RE-DIRECT project
• A professional development course for those who wish to investigate biochar-based products or services is now underway with over 40 participants from the 6 countries involved, with plans to run the course annually for new participants.
• During the project period:

  • 7 regional Circular Carbon Hubs (CC-Hubs) will be established for product and business development and marketing.
  • Circular Carbon-Labs (CC-Labs) will develop quality control mechanisms for tailor-made products and raw materials
  •  1 European umbrella organisation (CC-Net) provides business support, continuous vocational training, and advice for SMEs in the new sector.

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: Value of Renewable Electricity Generation from Bioenergy not recognised in RESS – IrBEA

The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) articulated the frustration of members in its response to the recent Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) consultation. The additional value of Renewable Electricity generation from Bioenergy ahead of intermittent generation in terms of continuous supply and grid stability is not recognised in the RESS system. The RESS 2 consultation document did not contain details of any specific category allocation for bioenergy projects including biomass and biogas similar to how solar got a preferential category in the last RESS auction.

Seán Finan, CEO of IrBEA said “RESS auctions are intended to be technology neutral but are biased towards technologies that provide a low MWh cost only. Bioenergy cannot compete on a cost only basis with other intermittent electricity sources such as wind and solar. The current maximum offer price is also a limiting factor and precludes bioenergy generation. It seems that no value is currently placed on continuous generation, grid stability and the additional environmental, financial and social benefits that bioenergy generation could provide. This may prove detrimental, if not addressed, to the Irish power grid and economic growth.”

A developer considering a wind or solar project, has a high level of certainty that the RESS will be a potential support for their project. This gives confidence and allows investment by the developer in project development costs. The market needs to be provided with some level of assurance around future support through RESS for cogeneration (CHP) bioenergy projects for them to develop.

Finan continued “Intermittent technologies such as wind and solar have certainty through the RESS process. They can plan for future auctions and invest in project development costs accordingly, with the assurance that there will be a potential support available in the future through the auction system. Bioenergy projects do not have the same certainty. As a result, it’s difficult for the project pipeline to develop. The Department of Environment, Climate & Communications (DECC) and Minister Ryan need to signal their future intentions immediately regarding specific support for bioenergy through the RESS auction system. The Department has indicated that there will be a separate RESS offshore wind auction in the short term. Why can’t there be a separate RESS bioenergy auction also?”

Governed by the latest version of the Renewable Energy Directive sustainability criteria, bioenergy provides long term employment and economic activity in rural areas. With an increased ambition to 2030, meeting current renewable energy and emissions reduction targets presents a significant challenge. A range of renewable generation technologies will be required to meet renewable electricity targets. This needs to including bioenergy-based cogeneration.

Finan concluded “We urge DECC and the Minister to engage with the bioenergy industry and ensure that future RESS auctions support a wider range of renewable electricity sources. A broader array of benefits other than just cost need to be evaluated and valued. Ireland has great potential for variable sources such as wind and solar. Generation capacity can be increased considerably with these technologies. However, the wind does not always blow and the sun always shine. The challenge of an increasing demand for electricity through a forecasted growth of electrification will require all potential generation technologies to contribute. Significant planning will be required in terms of continuous generation, supply balancing and storage of electricity. IrBEA fully supports the drive to decarbonise our electricity grid. All generation technologies must be considered and supported to ensure that a secure, stable, reliable and renewable grid is developed over the coming decade and beyond”.

Ends

For Further information please contact Seán Finan IrBEA CEO on 0874146480

PRESS RELEASE:   Oireachtas Committee report fails to recognise the potential for biogas and bioliquids in decarbonising transport – IrBEA

For Immediate Release

16/06/2021

Oireachtas Committee report fails to recognise the potential for biogas and bioliquids in decarbonising transport – IrBEA

The Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action recently published its report on “Reducing emissions in the transport sector by 51% by 2030”. The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) is disappointed and dismayed that the report fails to recognise the potential and role of bioliquids and biogas as part of the technology and fuel mix to decarbonise and reduce transport emissions by 2030.

James Cogan of Ethanol Europe and chair of the IrBEA Transport Committee said “The report title is promising and the ideas are great including the ending of road building, reverse urban sprawl, free public transport, reduced need for travel, cycling superhighways to name but a few. However, there is no further mention of 51% or 2030 after the title and no mention of cost or feasibility. That’s where the report falls short. We believe that the report should have aimed for more of a balance between a vision for a better Ireland and what’s actually doable to get 51% emissions cuts in 8 years”

The significant role and potential of bioenergy including biogas and bioliquids including bioethanol and biodiesel has not been considered in the report at all despite their significant contribution to date and the continued overwhelming dominance of combustion engine technology in Ireland’s transport system.

The Biofuels Obligation Scheme (BOS) was first introduced in 2010 and requires suppliers of road transport fuels to include a certain percentage of environmentally sustainable biofuels across their general fuel mix. The BOS has resulted in hundreds of thousands of tonnes of CO2 savings and emissions reductions annually.

Seán Finan CEO of the Irish Bioenergy Association said “Considering the important role that the BOS has played in the last decade in transport emissions reduction, we are surprised the BOS has not been mentioned once in the Oireachtas Committee report. This shows a complete and utter lack of awareness and understanding by the political establishment of the current emissions reduction policy instruments deployed by the state”.

Seán Finan continued “IrBEA calls for the further development of the BOS and for the broadening of the BOS to ensure that it is a central vehicle for the development of an Irish biogas industry. We reiterate our call for the immediate increase in substitution rates of Ethanol from 5% up to 10% in petrol (E10) and of biodiesel from 7% to 12% in Diesel (E12). With political will, the increased biofuel substitution measures can be introduced immediately at no cost to the consumer or exchequer and with no need for investment in fueling infrastructure. The introduction of E10 in Ireland alone would follow the recent announcement of its introduction in the UK and would result in the cutting of  carbon emissions in the transport sector by 200,000 tonnes annually, bringing the same reduction as approximately 100,000 electric cars at no cost to the exchequer”

The Committee report favours the re-engineering of living patterns and reductions in travel demand as the solution – a welcome measure but which extends way beyond the 2030 timeframe – seemingly to the exclusion of existing available technologies such as biogas and bioliquids.  It is undisputed by world climate experts that ALL measures will be needed to the maximum extent possible. The report mentions the potential for hydrogen which is not yet commercially available and for which there is no infrastructure. The report fails to consider biogas, which is a mainstream technology deployed across Europe with huge potential to be used to decarbonise the heavy goods vehicle  fleet.  Biogas utilises farm and industrial wastes and residues. It provides economic and employment opportunities to farmers and waste reduction solutions to industry.

The report reaffirms the welcome introduction of one million electric vehicles in the fleet by 2030 but omits to note that all expert evaluations of this measure to date point to (a) a risk that the target may not be reached due to the costs involved and (b) that if reached, while the measure will certainly help prevent further rises in transport emissions, it does not result in significant emissions reductions, as the economy and population continue to grow.   It may sound like a tired mantra by now, but it is still the case that “all climate measures in transport are vital”.

Seán Finan concluded “IrBEA issued a full briefing note to the Environment and Climate committee in April 2021 as they were preparing their report. Our note clearly highlighted the bioenergy options for decarbonising transport, with associated emissions reductions. We are acutely surprised and disappointed that the committee is turning a blind eye to the contents of that briefing by failing to recognise the potential for sustainable liquid and gaseous biofuels. Given the scale of the challenge that exist there are simply no grounds for it, while all solutions and fuels need to be on the table.”

James Cogan concluded “Right now we’re still increasing by 1 – 2% the amount of fossil fuel used each year in transport, like a couch potato putting on more weight. So let’s start by making an actual plan to turn this into a 1% reduction in oil use per year, starting this year. And if that’s doable then try doubling it to 2% per year, and so on, like a couch to 5k challenge”

ENDS

PRESS RELEASE: 40by30 –  Renewable Heat Plan launched

After over a year’s work, the Renewable Energy Ireland (REI) Renewable Heat Plan, 40by30, a roadmap to an Ireland where 40 per cent of our heat can come from renewables by 2030, has been published today.  This report has been developed by XD consulting on behalf of Renewable Energy Ireland. IrBEA are one of the main sponsors of the report and has acted in an administrative role on behalf of Renewable Energy Ireland for the development of this report. This Renewable Heat Plan will assist our lobbying efforts to encourage Minister Ryan and his department officials to adopt an ambitious 40% targets for renewable heat in the upcoming revision of the Climate Action Plan similar to the way the 70/30 report resulted in an ambitious target for the renewable electricity sector. There is a place for all renewable technologies and resources to be deployed in achieving this target. There is a particularly strong role for Bioenergy including solid biomass and biogas / biomethane given that bioenergy heating solutions can be deployed across all sectors and all temperature ranges. If you have any feedback and comments on the report or would like to discuss any aspect of it further please do not hesitate to get in touch with Seán Finan IrBEA CEO seanfinan@irbea.org

Link to report: https://renewableenergyireland.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Renewable-Energy-Ireland_Renewable-Heat-Plan_-Final.pdf

PRESS RELEASE

Immediate Release:  Thursday 6th May

Renewable Energy Ireland launches country’s first heat plan
United call for target of 40 per cent renewable heat by 2030

Renewable Energy Ireland (REI) publishes today 40by30, a roadmap to an Ireland where 40 per cent of our heat can come from renewables by 2030. This would reduce our CO2 emissions by 7 per cent annually in line with the Climate Action Bill.

This plan was developed by XD Consulting on behalf of REI and with the expert advice of organisations working in district heating, bioenergy, heat pumps, renewable gas and geothermal.

The plan clearly shows that 40 per cent of Ireland’s heat can be provided by renewable sources primarily from bioenergy, heat pumps, renewable gas and district heating networks. There is no single solution to decarbonising our heating system but we can heat our homes, schools, hospitals and businesses using a combination of several different heating technologies.

Speaking at the launch of the plan Dr Tanya Harrington, Chairperson of REI, said:
“This plan shows how the renewable heat industry can play our part in delivering the ambition of a 7 per cent reduction in our CO2 emissions. This report is an agreed vision from across our industry and a call to action for the Government to set an ambitious 40 per cent renewable heat target by 2030 in the revised Climate Action Plan.”

The report identifies a large number of urgent policy interventions required from Government and industry to deliver 40by30 including:

  • Update the building regulations and BER assessment methodology to accurately reflect the decarbonisation benefits of renewable heat.
  • Make it simpler and easier for consumers/businesses to apply for  the financial incentives for renewable heat technologies.
  • Implement Article 23 of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII) under the EU Clean Energy Package with a mandatory high ambition of at least 3% per annum.
  • Set Green Procurement targets for the public sector requiring a minimum annual increase in using renewable heat of 20% of demand and mandate that all new or replacement public sector heating systems must be 100% renewable.
  • Widen the supports for renewable heat in the Home Energy Grants and in the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) and incentivise large heat users to adopt renewable heat solutions.

Report Author, Xavier Dubuisson of XD Consulting, said:
“The 40by30 report provides decision-makers at national and local level a roadmap on how we can heat our homes, businesses, hospitals and industrial processes using Ireland’s vast renewable energy resources, and have a big impact on our climate challenge. The analysis we’ve conducted demonstrates that we can meet 40% of heat demand with renewable energy cost-effectively, making a direct contribution to Ireland’s 7% annual target in greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and creating 23,000 new permanent, fulltime jobs over this decade.”

Donna Gartland, CEO of the District Energy Association (IrDEA) said:
“This heat plan is the first of its kind in Ireland, bringing together all of the key industries in the Irish renewable heat sector and providing much needed input to the Government’s new ambitious CO2 targets for 2030. Based on the detailed cost-benefit analysis conducted, the findings highlight the key role district heating can play in decarbonising heat in Ireland, allowing us to deliver all types of large-scale renewable and low-carbon heat through the network with few or no changes required from the consumer.

“The reports shows district heating can provide 10 per cent of Ireland’s heating needs by 2030, meaning a rollout of district heating connecting 1% of the heat market per year, a target that has been achieved by climate leading countries in Europe since the 1960s.”

Paddy Phelan, President of the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) said:
“We are delighted to support the development of this vision for the renewable heat sector by Renewable Energy Ireland and its members across all of the renewable sectors and technologies. Bioenergy, including solid biomass and biogas/biomethane, as an indigenous, locally sourced, dispatchable energy source can deliver large emissions reductions across each heat sector and temperature range in Ireland.

“This plan sets a new vision and a clear pathway for how the Irish Government can deliver a 40% renewable heat target by 2030 while at the same time achieving the 7% carbon emissions per annum reductions.

“I call on Minister Ryan and the Government to adopt the 40by30 Renewable Heat Plan in the upcoming revision of the Climate Action Plan and to ramp up the supports for bioenergy to transition the heat sector away from fossil fuels such as imported gas and oil to deliver significant emissions reductions through widespread deployment of bioenergy”.

PJ Mc Carthy, CEO of Renewable Gas Forum Ireland (RGFI) said:
“On behalf of members in the agri-food, beverages and biopharma industries as well as developers and shippers,  RGFI  was pleased to contribute to this wider partnership of sustainable energy associations and its shared vision.  This collaborative approach is the only way to achieve the 7% annual  COreduction  and will, we hope, be supported by Government . RGFI is already pursuing some of the measures and policy recommendations identified, such as the early implementation of Article 23 REDII . We are advocating and supporting consumer and sector led initiatives to decarbonise industrial heat demand requirements, with an independent business case for AD biomethane production, which also benefits the environment and rural economy.

“However,  a just energy transition in Ireland requires a range of approaches and affordability. Renewable gas (biomethane and BioLPG) plays an important role both on and off the gas grid, alongside other renewable heat technologies. Over 500,000 Irish properties have no connection to the natural gas distribution network; two-thirds currently rely on oil boilers for heating and fuel. BioLPG as a drop-in fuel, delivers up to 90% certified carbon emission savings compared to conventional fossil fuels.”

ENDS

Contact:
Seán Finan, CEO Irish Bioenergy Association and Administration for Renewable Heat Plan on behalf of REI, 0874146480

About Renewable Energy Ireland;
This report is the result of a study commissioned by Renewable Energy Ireland (REI). REI was established in January 2019 as an open partnership of sustainable energy associations working collectively to support the energy transition in Ireland. The shared vision is that by 2050 Ireland will be energy independent through using indigenous, clean, carbon-free renewable energy supported by, and supporting, communities across our country. Further details of the work of REI can be found at: https://renewableenergyireland.ie/

Key numbers in the 40by30 Report:

  • 40% Renewable Heat by 2030.
  • Achieves Programme for Government target of 7% CO2 reduction per annum.
  • Realising the 7% CO2 reduction with switching over 40% of our heat supply to indigenous renewable energy sources would result in the creation of an estimated 23,000 new permanent, full-time jobs over this decade.
  • Thermal energy use accounted for 40% (41 TWh/yr) of all energy used in 2018.
  • Thermal energy accounts for circa 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.
  • Heat is responsible for 14 million tonnes of CO2 per year, a fifth of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • €3 billion was spent on heating in 2018 by domestic, business, public and industrial customers.
  • Ireland depends on fossil fuel imports for about 65% of its thermal energy use.
  • Reaching the 40% target would halve CO2 emissions from the heating sector to 7 MtCO2 by 2030.
  • Over two-thirds of the national heat demand is in buildings.
  • One third of the national heat demand is in industry.
  • Focus on the industrial sector is all the more important in that economic growth is projected to drive up the national heat demand by 14%.
  • Achieving the 40% renewable heat share, and delivering the 7% CO2 reduction per year required, is under 7% more costly than continuing with currently policy, which will deliver just over 20% renewable heat.
  • The extra overall system cost projected at ~€250 million per year will result in a saving of almost €600 million on imported fossil fuels.

Hitting the target would reduce Ireland’s dependency on total energy imports from 50% to 34%.

IrBEA Working Groups

IrBEA relaunches Biogas Subgroup

A successful relaunch meeting of the IrBEA Biogas Policy subgroup took place in February 2021. The meeting was very well attended by IrBEA members who are involved or interested in the biogas sector. It was agreed at the meeting that a survey of IrBEA biogas members would be completed.  Anyone interested in being part of this working group should contact Sean Finan at seanfinan@irbea.org

IrBEA hold successful member consultation on the Renewable Heat Plan

IrBEA held a successful online consultation meeting with members on Thursday 21st January 2021. The meeting was chaired by IrBEA President Paddy Phelan. IrBEA members were given an update on the main findings to date in the Renewable Heat plan. Xavier Dubuisson from XD Consulting presented an update on his work to date. Members provided their feedback on the policy measures required to develop the Renewable Heat sector in Ireland.
IrBEA through Renewable Energy Ireland is administering the development of the Renewable Heat Plan for Ireland. This plan is being developed with financial contributions from IrBEA, Renewable Energy Ireland and the Irish District Energy Association (IrDEA). The plan will demonstrate the potential contribution of renewable heat through a mix of technologies to the overall renewable energy target that Ireland must achieve by 2030 with a view to 2050. The report is examining the available resources and technology options that can be used at the different temperature ranges and within the different sectors to decarbonise heat.
IrBEA through the steering group is inputting on the biomass and biogas areas on behalf of our members. The final report will demonstrate the key role of bioenergy including biomass and biogas will have in addressing renewable heat targets at all levels and temperature ranges. The plan will be finalised and launched in the coming weeks.

Update on the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH)

IrBEA continues to hold a weekly meeting with SEAI senior management to address implementation issues associated with the SSRH. Progress is being made on the SSRH implementation by SEAI with inspections of completed systems taking place and more project entering the payments cycle. This progress is a welcome development and IrBEA will continued to work closely with SEAI. If any member has any specific queries or feedback on the SSRH, please contact IrBEA CEO Sean Finan at seanfinan@irbea.org

Katestone Global Air Emissions Report approval expected

In March 2020, IrBEA became aware that there was an issued on EPA licenced sites where the maximum size of biomass boiler that could be installed on licensed sites was 250Kw without triggering a full EPA licence review. In response and following discussions with the EPA and the SEAI, IrBEA commissioned Katestone Global who specialise in air modelling to undertake a study. The objective of this study was to provide detailed and technical information to the EPA so as that a positive decision could be made by the EPA to increase the biomass boiler size limit that could be installed on licensed sites without triggering a license review. A screening framework has been developed to determine what size boiler can be installed on an EPA licensed site and comply with air quality legislative requirements. If approved, this study and the screening framework tool will means that the 250kw boiler limit won’t be a barrier to biomass uptake on most licenced sites and it will unlock the potential of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) on these sites. The modelling work associated with this report has been very complicated and technical. IrBEA, Katestone Global and the EPA have worked closely on the technical items which arose during the work. IrBEA expects approval by the EPA in the next few weeks. The full report will be available to members once approved by the EPA.

 

An updated proposal from IrBEA to regulate the moisture content of firewood for sale in Ireland

The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) has previously submitted an outline proposal to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment for the regulation by the Department of the moisture content of firewood for sale for domestic combustion. This document updates the previous proposal and suggests a pathway and timeline for regulation of the moisture content of firewood for sale.
The objectives of the proposal to regulate the moisture content of firewood for sale are:

  • To contribute to improving air quality in Ireland in the context of the developing Clean air
    Strategy, the recent EPA report Air Quality in Ireland 20181, and the CAFE Directive, and
  • To enable the continued use of sustainable firewood fuel in domestic heating as a replacement
    for fossil fuel and thereby contribute to climate change mitigation.

Read the full document here

Press Release: IrBEA meets Minister Ryan to set out the bioenergy priorities for 2021

For Immediate Release
20/01/2021

IrBEA meets Minister Ryan to set out the bioenergy priorities for 2021

The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) met with Minister for Transport, Environment, Climate and Communication Networks, Eamon Ryan T.D. in recent days. The IrBEA representatives outlined the current work programme of the Association and priorities for 2021. At the meeting, Minister Ryan reaffirmed the Governments ambition to decarbonise the Irish Energy system by reducing emissions by 7% per annum surpassing EU targets.

Paddy Phelan, CEO of the Three Counties Energy Agency and President of IrBEA said “IrBEA members are identified as key to providing sustainable solutions to deliver this ambitious 7% target. The role of Bioenergy is clear in reducing emissions in agriculture, electricity, heat and transport. Bioenergy also supports rural development, rural enterprise and jobs and provides clean energy through local supply chains. Land use planning is crucial in the development of indigenous sustainable bioenergy resources from the existing forestry estate and opportunities for other measures such as agroforestry, energy crops and biogas to reduce emissions across the energy sectors”.

The impact of delays in the forestry licensing system was highlighted during the meeting. Timber, Energy and the growth of the Bioeconomy are all key deliverables of a thriving Forest sector.

Maurice Ryan, Director at Greenbelt and IrBEA Vice President said “the continuing delays in licensing from the Forest Service is severely impacting the forest sector. Forestry has huge potential and a very important role to play in supporting the agriculture industry in reducing our emissions. Forestry delivers timber, energy and for the bioeconomy. Forestry can promote biodiversity and land use improvement. These are mutually important topics and need to be part of future discussions.”

The failure to achieve 2020 renewable energy targets was acknowledgement at the meeting. It was noted that investing the 50 million euro fine paid by the Irish taxpayer for not achieving Renewable Heat target since 2010 would have been better invested over the years in Renewable Heat supports which promoted sustainable local biomass supply chains for supply of renewable fuel.

Seán Finan CEO of IrBEA said “Growth in Bioenergy needs to be recognised as one of the key climate actions to deliver sustainable clean energy for heat, transport and electricity that compliments jobs and enterprise through local value chains replacing imported fossil fuels.  Lack of supports historically for Bioenergy has resulted in failed renewable energy target delivery in Ireland.  In IrBEA, we will work with Minister Ryan, his department and SEAI to assist in the delivery of the challenging renewable energy targets for 2030 and always highlight the key role that Bioenergy has in this regard. Bioenergy has many socio-economic benefits locally and regionally which justify the need to invest in the required supports for Biomass, Biogas and Biofuels instead of buying the Renewable Energy credits from other EU members states”.

Paddy Phelan IrBEA President concluded “I was encouraged by the commitment from the Minister to the Climate Targets for 2030 and highlighting the role IrBEA members have in decarbonising the heat, electricity and transport sector in Ireland through increased use of Bioenergy including Biomass, Biogas and Biofuels. Lack of supports historically in heat and transport resulted in failed renewable heat target delivery in 2020.  The revised EU Emissions targets of 55% reduction by 2030 is key and IrBEA will be collaborating with the Minister, his Department and the SEAI in the development of the revised National Climate Action Plan in 2021.”

Ends

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

Notes to Editors:
The main items discussed at the meeting included:

  • SSRH: Need for full roll out of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) in 2021 now that project inspections and payments have commenced by SEAI in late 2020.
  • Biomethane Support Scheme: Potential for a support scheme for Biomethane injection was discussed with the Minister but no positive indication was given by the Minister whether there would be a support or not in the future. The Minister cited concerns regarding biodiversity, potential increased use of chemical fertilizer and further intensification of agriculture associated with a medium to large scale biomethane industry. IrBEA highlighted that our policy paper “Mobilising an Irish Biogas Industry with Policy and Action” (Reference[1]) developed jointly with our partners Industry partners Cré addresses Minister Ryan’s concerns.
  • Farm scale Biogas: IrBEA briefed the Minister on the work of the Association through our Department of Agriculture funded European Innovation Partnership project to demonstrate the potential for small scale farm based Anaerobic Digestion plants on Irish farms.
  • Dry Wood Fuels: The campaign by IrBEA for the introduction of regulation of the moisture content of firewood for sale to address air emissions issues was positively received by the Minister.
  • Heat Plan: The development of a Heat Plan for Ireland through Renewable Energy Ireland which IrBEA is a member of was highlighted. The role of bioenergy to decarbonise heat at all temperature ranges and across all sectors was emphasised. The example of Danone Milk Powder Plant in Wexford was cited as a great example of local woodchip supply chains meeting climate targets and for its achievement in being certification as the first carbon neutral baby formula plant in the world using local wood fuel biomass. (Reference [2])
  • Transport Plan: IrBEA outlined its proposal to develop a plan for decarbonisation of the transport sector which will be ready for publication in Q2 2021.
  • Forest Sector: The impact of delays in the forestry licensing system and impact was highlighted.

References:

  1. https://www.irbea.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/IrBEA-Cre-Biogas-Policy-Paper-Final_1.pdf
  2. https://www.danone.com/stories/articles-list/danone-wexford-becoming-the-first-carbon-neutral-baby-formula-plant-in-the-world.html

PRESS RELEASE: IrBEA outlines Bioenergy priorities ahead of the Budget

For Immediate Release:
09/10/2020

Budget 2021 is expected to be a watershed budget in terms of driving towards 2030 and 2050 climate actions. Government support for Irish bioenergy industry through dedicated support and development measures will greatly assist in meeting Irelands targets. The bioenergy sectors of biomass, biogas, biofuels, energy crops and wood fuels are all part of the bioeconomy and offer considerable potential and opportunity to drive the economic, jobs and growth agenda in rural areas.

Seán Finan, Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) CEO said “The industry in Ireland is waiting for its full potential to be realised by the Government and the budget presents the Government with an opportunity to announced measures and supports which will help to mobilise our industry across the different sectors. There is significant potential for bioenergy to contribute to renewable heat, transport and electricity targets, provide opportunities to farmers through farm diversification and development of alternative enterprises, development of rural jobs and addressing the climate changes and emissions challenges faced by the country.”

Over the last few weeks, IrBEA as the voice of the Irish bioenergy industry and working towards a sustainable energy future, 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 a thriving industry across Europe, and one that Ireland needs to fully embrace. In challenging times it is vital to exploit all proven opportunities to tackle climate change, renew and expand well paid and secure employment 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, out of 28 member states Ireland is 27th in terms of its use of renewable heat. We have a unique opportunity to build a significant industry with multiple benefits. Ireland currently derives 4% of its energy from bioenergy, this needs to rise to 15% by 2030 with further deployment beyond to meet Paris Agreement targets, the potential for economic recovery through quadrupling our bioenergy industry is a remarkable opportunity.

Finan concluded “While our focus is on using bioenergy in the transition away from fossil fuels, we acknowledge that building sustainable, economic and social recovery we 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.”

ENDS.

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

Notes to Editors:

Summary of the Bioenergy budget measures include:

  • Budget provision for widespread roll out of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) in 2021 and rapid resolution of implementation issues with the scheme. These issues are severely impacting on bioenergy’s potential to contribute to national renewable heat and greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

 

  • Additional dedicated resources to be assigned to the SEAI to assist with the efficient administration and implementation of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH).

 

  • Increase in carbon tax by €10/tonne in Budget 2021, provided effective measures are also implemented to reduce fuel poverty. This should be combined with regulation of wood fuel quality as outlined in IrBEA’s submission to DCCAE and EPA.

 

  • Ringfencing of revenue generated from carbon tax increases to provide support for the development of bioenergy and a biogas/biomethane industry in Ireland on a phased and sustainable basis benefitting rural jobs and the circular economy.

 

  • In line with Action 53 in the Climate Action Plan, make provision for a dedicated preference category under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) and other processes for financing of biomass CHP, biogas CHP and local heating projects, with particular reference to community involvement, and mobilisation of forest biomass.

 

  • As part of the Midlands Renewable Energy Hub, provision for the widening of support for greater use of biomass at scale to decarbonise electricity at Edenderry Power transitioning to 100% renewable electricity by 2023.

 

  • The Midlands Renewable Energy hub needs to be established immediately to allow the repurposing away from peat to the efficient usage of bioenergy for heat and power provision and the establishment of supply chains, employment opportunities and rural development.

 

  • Introduction of a Biogas support scheme to mobilise an Irish biogas industry on a phased basis as per our joint policy paper developed in association with Cré

 

  • 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 overweigh vehicles and tachograph usage.

 

  • As per the Biofuel Obligation Scheme, 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.

 

  • Introduction of a grant scheme to support the transition from fossil fuel appliances to eco-design compliant 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.

 

  • 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, its members and key stakeholders are working on a policy paper in this area as a way of providing indigenous biomass, an alternative farm enterprise, promoting the bioeconomy, rural development, and jobs.

 

  • 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.

IrBEA Budget Lobbying Document 2020 Pdf