IrBEA 21st National Bioenergy Conference

 

The IrBEA’s 21st National Bioenergy Conference will take place on Tuesday 11th October at the Lyrath Hotel in Kilkenny. We look forward to welcoming IrBEA members and a diverse range of stakeholders to this event.

This year’s conference will focus on the need to accelerate the uptake of bioenergy technology deployment in Ireland. IrBEA acknowledges that most larger businesses and new start-ups are aware of their responsibilities to be more sustainable and energy efficient. At this year’s conference, IrBEA wants to promote the role bioenergy can play in this transition from fossil fuels, helping businesses reduce costs, improve energy security, reduce supply chain risk, reduce carbon footprints, and improve company sustainability ratings.

We have had consistent attendance over the past 15 years at our conference with over 200 delegates attending this event annually. The event is targeted at a wide range of stakeholders and interested parties including: bioenergy project developers, utility providers, policymakers, political representatives, financiers, large energy users, businesses, engineers, landowners, and environmental groups. Our feedback from previous conferences indicates that attendees value the opportunity to meet those actively involved in the bioenergy sector. To hear about latest developments, successful projects and case studies, in the sector, broaden their knowledge and access further information, network and make new contacts.

Book your delegate ticket and trade stand here

We will also be offering sponsorship opportunities, further details can be found here. If you would like to discuss this further with us, please contact Teresa O’Brien at teresaobrien@irbea.org or Seán Finan at seanfinan@irbea.org

PRESS RELEASE: IrBEA outlines urgency for Government policy to mobilise biogas / biomethane industry at Joint Oireachtas Committee

Immediate Release: 07/07/2022   PRESS RELEASE:

IrBEA outlines urgency for Government policy to mobilise biogas / biomethane industry at Joint Oireachtas Committee

This week at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action, the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) outlined the urgency to introduce policies and supports to mobilise an Irish biomethane industry. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a proven technology used worldwide at many different scales.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Committee, Seán Finan, CEO of the Irish Bioenergy Association said: “Biogas production from AD technology is mainstream across Europe and worldwide. There are over 20,000 operational AD plants around the EU, and several million across the world. Ireland is far behind its EU counterparts in policy development terms and utilising this technology, with currently approximately 20 AD plants in operation in Ireland.”

In 2017, an EU Commission report titled “An assessment of the potential of biogas from anaerobic digestion in the EU beyond 2020” identifies that the member state with the largest potential for growth of biogas production is Ireland.

Noel Gavigan, Technical Executive at IrBEA said: “Anaerobic digestion complements and delivers on EU policies such as the Farm to Fork strategy. The recent RePowerEU report sets an EU target of 35Billion m3 of Biomethane by 2030. There is a significant opportunity for Ireland to contribute to this and a dedicated Irish AD biogas/biomethane policy is required to maximise the opportunity and potential for Ireland.”

The development of an Irish biomethane industry can present many opportunities for Ireland. The lack of progress in developing an Irish biogas/biomethane industry is a missed opportunity for Ireland’s economy.

Noel Gavigan continued: “This technology can bring many benefits including energy security, de-carbonisation, alternative farm enterprises, reduced emissions from agriculture, enhancing biodiversity, developing the circular and bioeconomy, improved water quality, rural development and job creation.”

The gap between cost of production of biogas / biomethane and the market return has closed in recent times with the increased fossil energy prices.

Seán Finan concluded: “This cost gap must be bridged through Government policy, support, incentives, and measures. Current policy measures such as the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) provide good incentives for solid biomass with significant opportunities to broaden and enhance the existing support for biogas. Planned policy measures like the proposed Renewable Heat Obligation (RHO) must be put in place immediately to encourage rapid transition from fossil fuels to indigenously produced biogas, biomass, and other fuels. IrBEA strongly encourages the Oireachtas committee to promote the immediate launch of this obligation.”

Midlands Bioenergy Development Project in-person launch in Moate

Tuar Ard Arts and Enterprise Centre, Moate, Co Westmeath was the venue for the in-person launch of the Midlands Bioenergy Development Project on 22nd June 2022. The Midlands Bioenergy Development Project is co-ordinated by the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) and co-funded by the National Just Transition Fund for the Midlands region. Minister for Land-use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett officiated at the launch and gave the keynote address on behalf of the government. Just Transition Commissioner, Mr Kieran Mulvey, spoke about what the Just Transition seeks to deliver for the region. More localised events will take place around the Midlands in the autumn so that the project can engage directly with potential bioenergy start-up enterprises that could benefit from knowledge transfer, training and mentoring from the project.

From left: Mr Tom Shanahan, Offaly Co Co; Ms Sarah Morgan, Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan; Kieran Mulvey, Just Transition Commissioner; Minister for Land-use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett; Mr Paddy Phelan, President, IrBEA; Mr Pádraic Ó hUiginn, Project Executive, Midlands Bioenergy Development Plan, IrBEA; Mr Seán Finan, CEO, IrBEA; Mr Pat Gallagher, CEO, Westmeath Co Co; Noel Gavigan, Technical Executive, IrBEA; and Dr Isabella Donnelly, Regional Coordinator and Westmeath County Mentor, SEAI Sustainable Energy Communities.

 

Launch of New Wood Fuel Quality Assurance animation

This week we see the launch of the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance animation on the sustainability role of wood fuels in forest management. The focus of this three minute animation is the healthy, working forests providing timber, thinnings for wood fuel, carbon sinks, habitats, public amenity & enterprise for Irish communities. We are excited to promote a positive message on Irish forestry and spread the work about the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance Scheme. Please take 3 minutes to watch this new animation. It can also be view and shared in YouTube HERE

Press Release: IrBEA welcomes new Midlands Bioenergy Development Project Executive

PRESS RELEASE: IrBEA’s Midlands Bioenergy Development Project welcomes new Project Executive

Immediate Release:  15th March 2022

The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) is pleased to announce its appointment of Pádraic Ó hUiginn as Project Executive for its Midlands Bioenergy Development Project.

Seán Finan IrBEA CEO said “On behalf of IrBEA, I’m delighted to welcome Pádraic Ó hUiginn to the association. I wish him the best of luck and every success in his new role. Pádraic brings a wealth of bioeconomy innovation experience. We look forward to working with him at this critical time, as Ireland grapples with the rising costs of fossil fuels, energy security, and the transition to renewables.”

Pádraic Ó hUiginn holds qualifications in economics, regulation, communications, project management and sustainability. He brings a broad range of experience and knowledge to IrBEA and joins at a pivotal time for the renewable energy sector. Pádraic will drive the implementation of the recently commenced Midlands Bioenergy Development Project. Supported by the National Just Transition Fund, this project will provide start-up enterprises in the Midlands region with non-financial support, knowledge, guidance and mentoring to establish successful bioenergy businesses. These businesses will help the Just Transition in the Midlands by providing quality green employment opportunities for a transitioning workforce. Pádraic will also be involved in other projects and work programmes within the association.

Prior to joining IrBEA, he worked for a number of years with tcbb RESOURCE and the Ryan Institute for sustainability and innovation. During that time Pádraic worked on the Causeway project, that introduced the first biomethane into the national gas grid; and Bio-Éire, that informed Ireland’s first National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy. He has a depth of experience supporting start-ups through BioBase4SME and the EU Regio Star Award-winning Bio Base North-West Europe, and the ReNEW Network, the first circular economy network on the island of Ireland. Pádraic also initiated and developed an EPA-funded research project that analysed the level of joined-up environmental policy in Ireland, sought out examples of best practice, and produced a ‘trip adviser’ guide of ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ for policy-makers and decision-makers.

Pádraic Ó hUiginn said “I am delighted to join the team here at IrBEA. I see in any successful association, that the momentum comes from its members, with the executive staff implementing and coordinating the strategic direction set out by the members and board. IrBEA has a challenging role to promote the entire bioenergy sector, across biomass, biogas, biofuels, biochar, energy crops and wood-fuels. The Midlands Bioenergy Development Project is aimed at supporting a region that has a wealth of energy production know-how across a range of skills. Bioenergy is inherently cross-cutting in that it can support joined-up answers to problems in energy security, job creation, farming, transport, and protecting soil, habitats, air and water.”

Pádraic Ó hUiginn continued “The Climate Action Plan 2021 shows that Government and our public bodies have begun to recognise that to move away from fossil fuels requires a mix of renewables: to meet the different challenges in electricity, heat, and transport. The Midlands Bioenergy Development Project is an excellent initiative to support this transition in a region stretching from East Galway to Kildare, and from Longford and Roscommon to North Tipperary –it can be a leading example for others to follow.”

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For further information please contact Seán Finan IrBEA CEO on 0874146480

 

About the Midlands Bioenergy Development Project:

The National Just Transition Fund
The National Just Transition Fund (JTF) is a key pillar of the Government’s plan for the Midlands region. A fund was made available in 2020 to support communities transitioning to a low-carbon economy. The focus is on retraining workers and generating sustainable employment in green enterprise across the region. The objective of the JTF is to facilitate innovative projects that contribute to the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of the Wider Midlands region (including East Galway, Kildare, Laois, Longford, North Tipperary, Offaly, Roscommon, and Westmeath) and have significant employment and enterprise potential. The JTF supports projects that take a whole-of-Midlands strategic approach and complement other sources of public funding.

The Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme
The Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme will provide start-up enterprises in the Midlands region with non-financial support, knowledge, guidance and mentoring to establish successful bioenergy businesses. These businesses will help the Just Transition in the Midlands by providing quality green employment opportunities for a transitioning workforce. The businesses will process indigenous feedstock (grass, wood, energy crops) to produce bioenergy (firewood, wood pellets, biogas, biochar, biooils etc) which will off-set existing fossil fuel usage. The feedstock which will be grown and sourced in the Midlands will stimulate the local rural economy and provide opportunities for primary producers also. This project will deliver a bioenergy knowledge transfer programme in the region on the various bioenergy sector opportunities in biomass production, biogas production, wood fuel and energy crop processing and production and biochar production and usage. This project will link producer, processing business, energy users and investors. The SMEs supported by the project through a mentoring programme will promote economic growth and rural development in the Midlands region. Mentoring and technical advice will be provided by the project team to develop 12 start-up enterprises in the Bioenergy sector in the midlands. This will be the main deliverable of the project

PRESS RELEASE: IrBEA hosts photo launch for the JTF Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme

 

Press Release – Immediate Release 26/01/2022IrBEA hosts photo launch for the JTF Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme
The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) recently complete a launch photograph with Minister of State, Senator Pippa Hackett for its Just Transition Fund (JTF) Project ‘The Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme.’

Speaking at the photo launch, Mr Sean Finan, CEO of IrBEA, said: “We are delighted to complete our photo launch of the IrBEA Just Transition funded Project with Minister Hackett. The Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme has been designed to provide training, mentoring, technical support, and advice to those interested in exploring the development of new bioenergy-based businesses in the midlands. The project will support the establishment of bioenergy businesses and link producers, processing business, energy users and investors.”

Under the National Just Transition Fund, administered by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), granted projects will seek to develop innovative projects which will lead to economic, environmental, and social sustainability for the Midlands region as it shifts away from the model of peat harvesting and use to a low carbon society with alternative employment opportunities within the catchment areas. The counties that are covered within the Just Transition Programme area and this project are East Galway, Kildare, Laois, Longford, North Tipperary, Offaly, Roscommon, and Westmeath.

Stephen McCormack, Project Executive with IrBEA said “The bioenergy sector encompasses many different possibilities for those looking to develop their own business, reskill and to find new employment opportunities. Bioenergy can be anything from the development of wood fuels such as wood chip, firewood or pellets, the growth of dedicated energy crops and biogas, biofuels, or biochar production. We will be kicking off the project activities in the coming months with a formal launch event and hosting a series of information and awareness events throughout the Midlands region.”

The project will assess the potential feedstocks and energy demand within the various counties of the JTF catchment as well as assessing the skills and training needs of interested parties. The project will design and rollout a knowledge transfer programme through the provision of training, mentoring, technical guidance, and advice for those looking to develop fully fledged bioenergy related businesses.

Finan concluded “Bioenergy is responsible for doing the heavy lifting in terms of all the various renewable energy technologies worldwide. By supporting those looking to transition into this sector, local employment opportunities can be provided. This will help keep the economic activity generated within the locality and more importantly, reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels and improving energy security. We look forward to engaging with former peat and power industry workers, farmers, foresters, SMEs, energy users and individuals within the region as they transition towards a sustainable low carbon energy future.”

To assist in the delivery of the Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme, IrBEA are currently recruiting a Project Executive. Full details can be found on the IrBEA website or via the link:
https://www.irbea.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/4-IrBEA-Project-Executive-Recruitment-Jan-2021-Job-Specification-Updated..pdf

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For Further Information Please contact Seán Finan IrBEA CEO on 0874146480

 

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.