Update on Support Scheme for Renewable Heat from Energy Agriculture Event

IrBEA reported earlier in the month that Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) published the draft terms and conditions (including eligibility and sustainability criteria) for the Support Scheme Renewable Heat (SSRH). The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, T.D. has welcomed the publication and commented.
The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat is a key measure to increase renewable energy in the heat sector and decrease emissions.  The scheme will also create new commercial opportunities for Ireland’s bioenergy and renewable heat industries.  The draft Terms & Conditions are designed to ensure that the heat generated under the SSRH will be sustainable, applied for useful purposes and represent value for money for the taxpayer, said Minister Naughten.

The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat will financially support the replacement of fossil fuel heating systems with renewable energy for non-domestic heat users.  The scheme will consist of two types of support mechanism – an operational support for biomass and anaerobic digestion (AD) heating systems and an installation grant for heat pumps. IrBEA believes right now that the levels of support for biomass heating and for biogas appear unchanged from those indicated in December 2017. Furthermore, IrBEA understands from conversations with SEAI that SSRH will be available for all commercial applications – with no lower limit and that the budget for the scheme for biomass has been €18 million per annum for 15 years. 

Update on SSRH from Energy in Agriculture Event in August
Delegates and Exhibitors did hear an update from Ray Langton (SEAI Programme Manager of SSRH) this week at the Energy in Agriculture event, he confirmed that heat pumps will open for applications next month but they are still waiting for the state aid approval for the biomass side of the scheme and they hoped this will open before the end of the year. Ray talked through the application process which lined-up broadly into two categories, firstly online application procedures followed by inspections.
Online Application Guidelines
Online Application Portal
Project Assessment Application Form
Letter of Offer
Inspection
Project Installation and Commissioning
Project Inspection and Verification
Payment Stage and Contract
Ongoing Obligation
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Eligibility Criteria’s were discussed including eligibility of applicants, eligibility of heat, heat use in building, energy efficiency, heat technology, installation standards and project funding. He said all these criteria’s would be closely assessed in the application process before contracts were offered.
Ray Langton commented that the SSRH scheme is going to help meet 2020 targets and help bridge the gap by increasing the renewable heat target by 3% getting closer to 16% target set by the EU Directive. He hopes that the main beneficiaries are commercial, industry, agriculture, district heating, public sector and agriculture. In a Q&A session he commented that any grandfathering terms (biomass installations already completed) will be determined by State Aid rules and they will only be able to accept applications after the date set by EU regulators.

View Ray Langton’s Presentation from the day here

Report from Energy in Agriculture on the 21 August 2018

Several hundred farmers attended the annual farm energy open day, where according to journalist Thomas Hubert discussions swung between progress on Government support and continuing hurdles to renewable projects. Farmers and renewable energy professionals showed both eagerness for the imminent launch of support schemes and frustration at delays, the scheme itself has be promised for years and now many farmers are frustrated at the endless wait and planning bureaucracy  associated with connection to the national electricity grid. Along with an array of talks and presentations on renewable energy and schemes in the pipeline there was also several impressive demos including a Wind Demo, Solar PV Demo, Wood Mobilisation, and Anaerobic Digestion Demo. Padraic O’Neill, Noel Gavigan and Michael Doran all members of IrBEA management  presented at this event and we hope to make all the presentations available shortly.

       
WFQA Stand                                                                                     Box Media talk to Trish Lawlor on the IrBEA Stand          Denis Naughten talks with Owen Power  from Enerpower    Padraic O’Neill talks at the Biogas Demo

 

 

Ireland Way Off Course to Meet Greenhouse Gas Emissions for 2020

At the publication of its Annual Review 2018, the Climate Change Advisory Council chairman Prof John FitzGerald said the policies being pursued to try to reverse Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions were inadequate. Ireland cannot meet targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and is completely off the course if it wants to achieve other carbon reduction goals. He believes that in order to decarbonise the economy by 2050, Ireland needs to produce 1 million fewer tonnes of carbon per year, which would require a complete reversal of the current trend.
Prof FitzGerald said “the problem is there isn’t a policy framework” to try to reach the targets. There was a need to increase carbon taxes to drive alternative energy approaches but this required cross-party consensus in a Dáil where the Government did not have an overall majority is problematic. Responding to the report, the Minister for Climate Action Denis Naughten said he shared the council’s frustration and that latest progressions on green house gas emissions were “deeply disappointing”. He said the transport and agriculture sectors and Ireland’s growing economy had “contributed significantly” to the increases but that the Government was “doing everything it can to ensure that we, as an absolute minimum, meet our 2030 target”. The council has called for an increase in carbon tax from €20 per tonne to €30 per tonne and Naughten has said the Department of Finance was finalising a review of the State’s carbon tax policy.

UK Retailers Could Face Limit on Sales of Wet Wood

Retailers could face restrictions on selling wet wood as a fuel for household heating, under plans announced by UK government this week (17 August) to tackle particulate air pollution. This is among the measures set out in a call for evidence, outlining further plans for legislation on the burning of solid fuels like wood and coal, following on from the launch of the government’s Clean Air Strategy this summer. According to Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs, UK (DEFRA), the burning of wood and coal in the home is the largest single contributor to particulate matter pollution – and has been identified by the World Health Organization as the most damaging air pollutant. Domestic burning contributes 38% of particulate matter pollution, compared with 16% from industrial combustion and only 12% from road transport, it is claimed.
The consultation proposes a series of measures aimed at reducing particulate matter emissions from domestic fuel combustion, including restricting the sale of wet wood for domestic burning, applying sulphur standards and smoke emission limits to all solid fuels and phasing out the sale of traditional house coal. The government has said it will also ensure that “only the cleanest stoves” are available for sale by 2022.

Related links
-Air Quality News article in full here

Consultation on cleaner domestic burning of solid fuels and wood 

Biomethane on the National Gas Grid – A First for Ireland’s Bio-Economy

In 2018, Gas Networks Ireland will introduce renewable gas onto the Irish gas network for the first time writes Pádraic Ó hUiginn. Renewable gas, also known as biogas or greengas, will be introduced into the Irish market as a means of further reducing emissions. As natural gas and biomethane are interchangeable, renewable gas can be used in the same way and in the same appliances as natural gas. Customers, business and domestic, would never be aware that the gas they are using is a renewable alternative. 
Gas Networks Ireland
is part of the Ervia commercial semistate company that owns and operates the national gas grid in Ireland and together with project partner NUI Galway,  it is leading the European Union co-funded Causeway project. Causeway, funded under the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), will deliver a clean energy project for Ireland’s transport sector, and in doing so, provide a template for the rest of Europe. Full article here

Support Scheme for Renewable Heat – Proposed Terms and Conditions

SEAI have now published draft Terms and Conditions for the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat. The levels of support for Biomass Heating and for biogas appear unchanged from those indicated in December last.

We also understand from conversations with SEAI  that

  • SSRH will be available for all commercial applications – with no lower limit.
  • The budget for the scheme is €18m per year for 15 years, the €18m budget is for biomass alone.
  • It is planned that the online portal for applications will be open in September, this will allow people to become familiar with the requirements.

IrBEA will be reviewing the terms and conditions and if required will formulate a response to SEAI. Should any members have comments on same please contact noelgavigan@irbea.org

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

A Comprehensive Overview of Biogas & Biomethane Sectors in Europe

The European Biogas Association (EBA) joins forces every year with its extensive network of national biogas associations to provide overviews, statistics and analyses of biogas markets, support schemes and related policy issues.
Biogas Plants
The number of biogas plants in Europe has greatly increased. Between 2009 (earliest EBA data) and 2016, the total number of biogas plants rose from 6,227 to 17,662 installations (+11,435 units). Growth was particularly strong from 2010 to 2012, reaching double figures every year. Most of that growth derives from the increase in plants running on agricultural substrates: these went from 4,797 units in 2009 to 12,496 installations in 2016 (+7,699 units, 67% of the total increase). Agricultural plants are then followed by biogas plants running on sewage sludge (2,838 plants), landfill waste (1,604 units) and various other types of waste (688 plants).
Installed Electric Capacity (IEC) in the Biogas Sector
Although the number of biogas plants in Europe has been stabilising since 2015, the total Installed Electric Capacity (IEC) is on the rise. The IEC increased in Europe from 4,158 MW in 2010 to 9,985 MW in 2016 (+5,827 MW). In 2016 alone, the IEC increased by 858 MW (+9%). Growth in Installed Electric Capacity (IEC) since 2011 has been mainly due to the building of plants running on agricultural substrates: such plants went from 3,408 MW in 2011 to 6,348 MW in 2016 (+2,940 MW – 56.5% of the total increase).
Biomethane Production
In line with the development of biomethane plants, biomethane production has greatly increased since 2011: production rose from 752 GWh in 2011 to 17,264 GWh in 2016 (+16,512 GWh). In 2016 alone, biomethane production in Europe increased by 4,971 GWh (+40%): current growth in the sector is therefore demonstrably rapid. The countries which saw the most significant development in biomethane production in 2016 were Germany (+900 GWh), France (+133 GWh) and Sweden (+78 GWh). Full report can be found here