From the IrBEA
From the IrBEA
For Immediate Release
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.”
Notes to Editors:
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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:
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”.
For Further information please contact Seán Finan IrBEA CEO on 0874146480
This online webinar was aimed at heat users who can potentially avail of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) by transitioning from fossil fuel based heating systems to renewable heat. The SSRH is a government funded initiative designed to increase the energy generated from renewable sources in the heat sector. The scheme is open to commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating, public sector and other non-domestic heat users.
Energy requirements in many sectors such as hospitality, sport centres, care homes and residential apartments is often very high. Reliable and cost-efficient, woodchip and wood pellet boilers are the ideal solution to reducing your heating costs. Many businesses will be eligible for the Scheme, it will effectively allow high energy demanding businesses to dramatically reduce their heating bills for 15 years. Depending on the heat usage and the size of the installation, up to €25,000/€30,000 per year is available for eligible applications, by switching from fossil, oil and gas to more sustainable biomass or biofuel sources.
This event included contributions the welcome address from William Walsh (SEAI, CEO) and presentations from Ray Langton (SEAI Program Manager SSRH), Noel Gavigan (IrBEA) Joanne Sheehan (Enterprise Ireland) Micheal Fogarty (Katestone Global) and SSRH grant recipients who have already been successful.
LIVE RECORDING – You can view the Presentation here
For Immediate Release
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”
Last month Renewable Energy Ireland (REI) launched 40by30 – a renewable heat vision which delivers 40% renewable heat by 2030, developed by XD Consulting it is the country’s first Renewable Heat Plan which sets out an agreed vision from industry for the renewable heat sector. It calls on the Government to set an ambitious 40% renewable heat target by 2030 in the revised Climate Action Plan. The target can be provided by renewable sources primarily from bioenergy, heat pumps, renewable gas and district heating networks. We can heat our homes, schools, hospitals and businesses using a combination of several different heating technology options. The purpose of this IrBEA webinar was focused on the contribution of bioenergy, including solid biomass and biogas, to the ambitious 40% renewable heat target and outline the main findings and recommendations within the report. The webinar will include contributions from Paddy Phelan IrBEA President, Dr. Tanya Harrington Chairperson of REI and the report’s author, Xavier Dubuisson of XD Consulting.
View the live recording here
This webinar focused on the opportunities to support community energy projects through an online collaborative platform called the One Stop Shop. It will outline the particular scope for enabling bioenergy projects, assisting the sector’s growth by developing public recognition, buy-in from stakeholders, and supportive policy measures from the government. The digital ‘One Stop Shop’ (OSS) aims to provide all necessary resources and tools to enable citizens to partake in renewable energy projects, helping them overcome technical and organisational barriers that may be holding them back at present. The OSS provides a space for connection and collaboration to share knowledge and experience of a range of projects, to help more ventures develop and increase the spread of local renewable energy generation. Participants of the site can work collectively to foster the growth of these projects on a national and international scale.
View live recording here