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.

 

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

 

IrBEA launches Transport in Ireland Report: A Pathway to Halving Emissions

Press Release: Immediate Release

Thursday 02/12/2021

The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) today publishes “Transport in Ireland: A Pathway to Halving Emissions – Meeting ambitious emissions reduction in Ireland’s Transport sector and the role of Sustainable Bioenergy”. This report was developed by UCC MaREI on behalf of IrBEA.

The report clearly shows that Ireland has a clear pathway to halve its emissions from Transport through the introduction of a combination of policy interventions and measures including electrification, increased biofuels blending, biomethane and driver efficiency measures. There is no single solution to decarbonising our Transport sector but by utilising a combination of different fuels, technologies and driving efficiency measures, emissions from our Transport sector can be halved by 2030.

Speaking at the launch of the report Mr Paddy Phelan, President of IrBEA, said: “This report shows how the renewable transport sector must play a significant part in delivering on the Government’s CO2 emissions reduction ambition set out in the 2021 National Climate Action Plan”.

“This report developed by Dr Paul Deane and his team at UCC MaREI is a call to action for the Government and to recognise the strong role of sustainable bioenergy. Bioenergy including bioliquids (Ethanol, Biodiesel and HVO) and biogas/biomethane, as an indigenous, locally sourced energy source can deliver large emissions reductions across the Transport sector in Ireland”.

The report identifies a diverse range of decarbonisation options and policy interventions required from Government to deliver a 51% reduction in Transport emissions including:

– Delivering on the Government stated ambition of over 940,000 electric vehicles in 2030, avoiding approximately 2 Million Tonnes of CO2.
– Increasing the blend rate of sustainable bioliquids on petrol and diesel (minimum of 10% ethanol and 12% biodiesel) as per the Climate Action Plan avoids an additional 0.4 Million Tonnes of CO2. noting that early action is key to delivering higher cumulative emissions savings.
– Efficiency and behavioural measures that reduce surface transport fuel consumption by 17% by 2030 as per the climate Action Plan 2019 avoids 4.7 Million Tonnes of CO2.
– Targeting 5 TWh of Indigenous Biomethane production (3% of land area) for use in heavy transport avoids approximately 1 Million Tonnes of CO2.
– Targeting 2 TWh of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils (HVO) avoids approximately 0.4 Million Tonnes of CO2. Note: Sweden increased the blending of HVO with diesel from 0 TWh in 2011 to 14 TWh in 2018.

Report Author, Dr Paul Deane of UCC MaREI, said: “This report provides policy and decision-makers with a roadmap on how we dramatically reduce emissions from our Transport sector through the use of renewable energy resources, having a big impact on addressing our climate challenge.

“The analysis we’ve conducted demonstrates that a 35% renewables in Transport ambition can make a direct contribution to Ireland’s 51% target in greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2030.”

Mr James Cogan, IrBEA Transport Subgroup lead said: “Ireland is in the grip of a severe crisis where transport climate action is concerned. Emissions are actually increasing, halving emissions by 2030 means halving diesel and petrol use by 2030. Solutions need to be acceptable to the public, cost effective and compatible with how people live their lives. Sustainable biofuels already save over half a million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, and that contribution could be doubled or more by 2030.”

Seán Finan, CEO of the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) said: “We are delighted to launch this report and thank Dr Paul Deane and his team at UCC MaREI for their work. We call on Minister Ryan and the Government to adopt and implement the proposals, ambition and measures outlinedin this report. We call for the immediate ramp up of supports, policy interventions for renewable transport and particularly sustainable bioenergy measures. We want to see enhanced Government recognition of the role sustainable bioenergy including bioliquids and biomethane can play to transition the Transport sector away from fossil fuels. The recently published Climate Action Plan has yet to determine measures to remove a further 4 million tonnes of carbon emissions. Increasing the deployment and ambition for bioenergy in Transport through the Biofuels Obligation Scheme is an obvious choice.”

ENDS

For Further Information Please contact Seán Finan IrBEA CEO on 0874146480

Notes to Editors:

About the Report:
The report was commissioned by the Irish Bioenergy Association on behalf of its members. The report was funded through sponsorship contributions from IrBEA, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Ethanol Europe, Green Biofuels Ireland, Green Generation and 3 Counties Energy Agency.

Some Key numbers in the Report:

– In 2020, biofuel delivered an 84% reduction in carbon on a per energy unit basic compared to fossil fuels.
– Biofuels make up 5% of total road energy consumption in 2020.
– Biofuels avoided approximately 520,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2020.
– Sustainable biofuels make up 98% of renewable energy in Transport in Ireland. The remaining 2% is electricity.
– Less than 1% of consumption in road transport were from crop based fuels. The EU average is 4%.
– 68% of all biofuels in Ireland are from used cooking oil while 15% were from animal fats (Tallow).
– 33% of raw materials to make biofuels were imported from China with 14% of raw materials sourced from Ireland
– SEAI estimates that Bioenergy potential equals 30% of the energy use today.
– All fuels met sustainability requirements in accordance with the Biofuels Obligation Scheme.
– Sustainable bioliquids are cost competitive.
– The current cost per unit of carbon avoided is €250 – €350 per tonne of CO2 for battery electric vehicles and higher for Plug in Hybrids compared to estimates of values between €110 – €280 per tonne of carbon avoided for bioliquids and biomethane.
– Renewable energy in Transport should increase from 4% today to 35% in 2030 to deliver government ambition.
– Indigenous biomethane is an untapped resource that can reduce emissions in transport by 1 million tonnes while advancing emissions reduction in both agriculture and land use.
– In Ireland, over 35 billion kilometres were driven by private cars in 2018.

About the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA)
IrBEA was founded in 1999. Its role is to promote the bioenergy industry and to develop this important sector on the island of Ireland. The diverse membership includes farmers and foresters, fuel suppliers, energy development companies, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, engineers, financiers and tax advisers, legal firms, consultants, planners, research organisations, local authorities, education, and advisory bodies – anyone with an interest in the bioenergy industry. IrBEA is recognised by Government and agencies as the voice of the bioenergy industry. The association’s main objectives are to influence policy makers to promote the development of bioenergy, and to promote the interests of members. Improving public awareness, networking, and information sharing, and liaising with similar interest groups are other key areas of work in promoting bioenergy as an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable energy. The organisation is a self-governing association of voluntary members and is affiliated to Bioenergy Europe and the European Biogas Association (EBA). The organisations activities are managed by the CEO assisted by a small executive staff team and is governed by a board of Directors which includes an elected President and Vice President. Policy direction is provided by a Management Executive Committee and specific subcommittees. Further information on the association is available at www.irbea.org

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”.

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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”

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