PRESS RELEASE: IrBEA welcomes the recognition of Biochar and BECCS in Ireland’s draft Climate Action Plan 2024

For Immediate Release:

12th January 2024

Following extensive lobbying and advocacy by the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) and its members over recent years, the Climate Action Plan published by the Government in December 2023, contains for the first-time recognition of the role of both biochar and bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) as carbon removal measures.

Stephen McCormack, Project Executive with IrBEA said: “We are delighted to finally see reference to biochar and the potential role it can play in delivering on our shared climate action ambitions. IrBEA and its members acknowledge that biochar production and use, from biomass, can sequester carbon, but also has the ability to be used within a whole host of sectors including environmental applications, the bioeconomy, agriculture, horticulture, bioenergy (heat and electricity) production as well as biomaterials to name a few. While the mention of biochar is welcomed in the draft climate action plan, this may be viewed as a first step, and one which will require further policy development, research and support.”

IrBEA, as the representative body for the biochar industry in Ireland, has a growing number of members involved in this emerging sector – everyone from biomass suppliers, technology providers and installers, consultants, research bodies and analytics, producers and users. IrBEA has also participated in a series of successive Interreg Northwest Europe (NWE) funded projects. Through these projects knowledge transfer and product development ideas have been rolled out in collaboration with international partners, giving valuable insight into the role biochar can play. The latest of these, the CASCADE project, will see IrBEA work with industry stakeholders to further develop biochar application scenarios within the pilot region of County Donegal, where the emphasis will be on agricultural, horticultural and environmental applications of biochar.

Sean Finan, CEO of IrBEA stated that “The draft climate action plan acknowledges the potential role that biochar and bioenergy carbon capture and storage technology can play in carbon removals including the bioeconomy. We welcome the possibility of these technologies being utilised to address unallocated savings as updated carbon budgets are calculated for the second half of the decade. Key industry stakeholders have advocated for years how biochar production is one of most cost effective “safe, scalable and shovel ready” methods of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies at our disposal where the carbon sequestered is widely recognised as having a good level of permanence. The production of biochar using pyrolysis technology is a valuable source of bioenergy (heat and electricity) and the resultant biochar can be used in a wide variety of sectors really adds to its attractiveness as a tool for fighting climate change.”

2023 was a turning point for biochar here in Ireland. IrBEA hosted a very successful Biochar and Carbon Products conference in May. In addition, several prominent and high-profile biochar related speakers presented at IrBEA’s National Bioenergy conference in October. Recently, IrBEA developed a feasibility study to explore sustainable management of agricultural green waste in Ireland on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and this report identified biochar production and use, as one of several feasible, viable and sustainable alternatives to burning agricultural green waste. 2023 also saw biochar’s inclusion in carbon farming discussions at both a national and European level.

Seán Finan concluded “Biochar’s inclusion in the draft Climate Action Plan is a positive step and – having first been identified by the Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) as far back as 2018 as one of the promising negative emissions technologies (NET) capable of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) at scale.”

Stephen McCormack concluded: “2024 is set to be an exciting year for the development of the emerging biochar sector here in Ireland. Arigna Fuels in Co. Roscommon will commission their new production plant, which will mean Ireland will be home to one of the largest biochar production capacities in Europe. There are numerous other production plants in various stages of commissioning or planning, with technologies being developed at differing scales of production and sophistication. There has been an obvious increase in awareness and recognition of biochar’s potential across various Government departments, research bodies and industry. We look forward to continuing to work with our members, including our dedicated Biochar and Carbon Products working group, alongside other stakeholders to further develop the sector and see its position as a CDR strategy strengthened.”