IrBEA has received feedback from DCENR over the last 2 weeks, the department seemed genuinely interested in working to ensure that the Bioenergy policy delivery is appropriate. It is still their intention to roll out RHI by early 2017. The timeline seems to be that there will be another consultation in late June. It will have three components: A questionnaire to related parties. Interviews with specific organisations (including IrBEA) and finally, select workshops. There will then be a final consultation early October, which will be focused both on the procedure for delivering the RHI and the technical content. Element Energy, from London has been appointed to carry out the economic review for RHI. That report is due back in September, in advance of the consultation. There will also be results out shortly on a biogas study which will feed into the consultation.
Biogas: IrBEA met with DAFM Climate Change and Bioenergy Policy Division. On Tuesday 12th April IrBEA’s Padraic O’Neil and Noel Gavigan responded to a request from Department of Agriculture Food and Marine officials to meet and discuss the options for biogas at an agricultural level. Over a wide ranging meeting the options and possibilities were discussed for implementing small scale biogas plants on farms and in agri-food facilities. Of particular interest was the potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through reducing slurry storage and the displacement of fossil fuels for heat and power. The Department is interested in this potential and the discussion did include the possibilities for support measures.
We had a very successful and enjoyable trip to Denmark, representatives participated from a broad range of sectors including Irish biomass boiler manufacturers, Coillte, private forestry and farming interests, pellet producers, representatives from Údarás na Gaeltachta, and other government agencies focusing on building sustainable rural energy projects.
Brewery Vestfyen was our first site visit, here they have shifted from oil to local biomass sourced from residual wood in the Danish forestry and sawmill sector. 2 boilers running on 700,000 litres of heating oil each year have been replaced with a 40 bar 4MW boiler from Focus BioEnergy running on P45 wood chips since January 2015 with a yearly consumption of 10,000 m3. The brewery has a yearly production of cans and bottles containing beer and soft drinks exceeding 120 million units. Biomass is tipped into two 100 m3 containers and transferred to the boiler by auger. Biomass is sold to the customer by the gigajoule of energy delivered and payback is less than 2 years as a result of a government incentive to encourage the switch to renewables. In the afternoon we visited the town of Stoholm which has a district heating system common to many small towns (780 houses) we met a company which designs, sells and installs bio-fuel boilers. This particular plant was a 1MW pellet boiler and provided the heating and water for all the houses in the town during the summer months, in the winter months a larger capacity gas boiler kicks in to meet the peak load demand. On Friday we travelled to Sonder Omme District heating plant which provides heating for housing and industry (popul 1700). It is a fully automated system using woodchip, Anders Hjørnholm from Danstoker brought us around the plant the boilers here was manufactured by his company, he said it was a typical build in Denmark. We visited a second 5.5MW district heating plant in Grindsted where we were accompanied by Peter Larsen from Justsen who specialise in biomass boiler system installations. Finally last stop was Danstoker fabrication workshop, a large aircraft hangar full of boilers at different stages of construction, ranging from sub 1MW up to 20 MW. It was a very informative trip and good contacts were made. It was impressive how Denmark take renewable heat seriously and provides targeted incentives to underpin investor confidence in the sector. It is a model we would like to see here in Ireland. There are so many energy intensive businesses in the Irish food, pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors who have a global ambition to become carbon neutral through reducing emissions and using resources more efficiently. It is widely recognised that our State and the emerging private forestry biomass resource can play a key role in delivering on this ambitions.
A €20 million pilot project to improve energy efficiency in the homes of people with acute health conditions is due to commence this month (March), according to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR). It also envisages the future introduction of minimum thermal efficiency standards in rented accommodation. The scheme will be expanded next year to target low-income households with young children. The strategy also heralds a public consultation on proposals to introduce minimum energy efficiency standards for rental accommodation. This would mean that, in time, properties could not be let unless they had a BER certificate above a certain standard. This would not be introduced before 2020, to give time for the property market to stabilise. It would then apply initially to new leases only, and it would be staged, starting with properties with the lowest BER rating. See press release and strategy for download here
The EU-funded project ‘Generating Renewable Energy Business Enterprise’ (GREBE) was launched in Ballina, Co Mayo, at the end of February. IrBEA is an associate partner in the project which is led by Western Development Commission and has partners from the North West Periphery Region including Northern Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Iceland and Finland. GREBE aims to equip SMEs and start-ups with the skills and confidence to overcome sector challenges in their areas and use place-based natural assets for renewable energy to sustainable effect. Presentations from the launch and other project detail are available here
In response to requests, IrBEA is now providing a click-and-view of the presentations from the National Bioenergy Conference held on 3rd February. Each of the nine speaker presentations are available in full (sound and vision), and this new service for IrBEA members and other interested parties provides more enduring value from our quality speaker line-up.
At the end of 2015 IrBEA and Cré jointly wrote to GNI requesting answers to the following questions about the Gas Innovation Fund.
– How can our members apply to this fund?
– What are the fund’s’ scope, terms and conditions?
– What projects have been supported to date?
– How much funding has been approved?
– What is the application process?
– What criteria determine success or failure?
– What provisions are in place to ensure fund transparency in the future?
This week we received the following response from GNI:
Gas Networks Ireland welcome your interest in the Gas Innovation Group. In order to obtain the answers to your questions below – please find the Gas Innovation Group section on our website. The application forms and evaluation criteria are outlined on the site and there is detail also in the application forms themselves. We would welcome applications from you and your members.
Last week we reported Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) Minister Jonathan Bell had announced the domestic and non domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) schemes in Northern Ireland will close on the 29th February. The NI Assembly duly approved the closure earlier this week, see Notice of Suspension. Responding to the move, John Martin, Chairman of Biomass Energy Northern Ireland (BENI) issued a press release and called for “urgent talks between the NI Government and the heat sector to plan an appropriate way forward”. The Belfast Telegraph reported this. In a further step this week, John Martin wrote to Minister Bell (cc’d to UK Minister for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd and to Patsy McGlone, MLA Chairperson, Committee of Enterprise, Trade and Investment) requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the implications of the suspension and to consider an appropriate policy framework going forward to 2020 and beyond. See letter.
SEAI has announced the first of two calls for proposals for the Sustainable Energy RD&D Programme. With a total fund of €1m, the programme aims to improve the coherence of Irish energy research and development, building a cleaner and more secure energy future, while enhancing the country’s knowledge economy. The deadline for the first call is 1st April. A second call is due to open on 1st May. See guidelines and application form here
In response to requests, IrBEA is now providing a click-and-view of the presentations from the National Bioenergy Conference held on 3rd February. Each of the nine speaker presentations are available in full (sound and vision), and this new service for IrBEA members and other interested parties provides more enduring value from our quality speaker line-up. See videos on the IrBEA homepage here and if you would like to see the press releases and presentations (pdf), view here.