Weekly Noticeboard 05/12/15

1. Summary notes of Bioenergy Plan Stakeholder Meeting with DCENR 24 Nov 2015.
About 40 industry stakeholders, including many IrBEA members, attended a stakeholder consultation session on the drafting of the Bioenergy Plan. The meeting was chaired by Brian Carroll, Principal Officer, DCENR. Joining him at the top table were Cathy O’Connor (DCENR), Frank Groome (DCENR/Eirgrid) and Eugene Hendrick (DAFM). Summary notes:
Bioenergy Supply Chain
Eugene Hendrick (Department of Agriculture) Chairs a Working Group on biomass supply, and addressed the meeting. The bioenergy scheme, which has funded energy crops for several years, is currently closed pending a review in early 2016. A new forest-fibre scheme is also being assessed, which is looking at further unlocking of resources, and also possibly short rotation forestry (SRF).
Matthew Clancy (SEAI) reported that consultants are currently undertaking a study of the bioenergy supply chain (hopefully updating the bioenergy supply cost curves, although this was not clear). SEAI also reported that a district heating study is underway since July and due for submission by year end to EU commission. This assessment of district heating is a requirement under the EU Energy Efficiency Directive. There is also likely to be a case study for a  town-wide DH scheme prepared by SEAI.
Andrew Ennis (NTMA) stated the need for a separate assessment and treatment of district heat, particularly in the context of any RHI, and that there is a case for a district heat top-up.
Brian Carroll reported that the procurement of consultancy services for an “Economic Assessment of Biogas Opportunities” is ongoing, with a tender due early 2016.
Demand Side measures, including RHI
Brian Carroll (DCENR) acknowledged that there has been slippage on the “indicative” timelines for consultation on RHI, that there is some impatience and expectation in the market and there is a need to have more specific work packages and milestones to deliver on. Two meetings had taken place with DG Competition, where the issue of grandfathering was raised, to avoid falling foul of state aid rules.
Frank Groome (DCENR) was introduced (replacement for Errol Close), who is now tasked with RES-H and RES-E policy development. There were 75 submissions received  on phase 1 consultation of RHI (including IrBEA’s report and submission). It is expected to move to design phase consultation in Q1 2016, with final phase consultation foreseen in “summer 2016”.
The target is to get an RHI in place by end of 2016. The RES-E and RES-H policy consultations continue to run in tandem.
Brian Carroll stated that the Energy White Paper would be published by end 2015, but there are no specific measures related to RHI or price supports therein.
Several of IrBEA Management Committee asked questions about the process and raised concerns on behalf of IrBEA members. There were further contributions from GNI, Cre, BNM, CPL and others.
David Dodd (DOE) has made submissions to DCENR on emissions and advised the meeting of the development of a national clean air strategy.
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Bioenergy Plan
RPS have been appointed to carry out an SEA of the bioenergy plan. Emma Oliveira of RPS addressed the meeting. This is a rather wide ranging remit, where starting from a blank page they have to consider any potential environmental consequences and possible mitigation strategies for the actions proposed in the bioenergy plan. It is a necessary step, and although unlikely to halt any measures, can have an impact on how they are formed. If there are additional actions to be assessed, DCENR advised this would be an opportune time to have them assessed. This work should be completed during Q1 2016.
2. Renewable Heat Incentive – needed now more than ever. A working group of the IrBEA RHI Group has developed an action plan to lobby for more urgent action on introducing a Renewable Heat Incentive in Ireland. Actions agreed include:
i) A letter to Minister Alex White proposing IrBEA expertise (T.Bruton) for RHI development (sent 30 Nov)
ii) Summary notes sent to broadcast media (RTE news incl. Morning Ireland, News at One, Drivetime; Newstalk; Today FM) promoting interview opportunities on Cop21, renewables, missing Ireland’s targets, Govt missing opportunities in heating and in renewable gas
iii) Article (2300 words) written for publication, also uploaded on IrBEA website hereas a blog – Members are urged to re-tweet/disseminate through social media and local newspapers.
iv) Lobbying politicians. IrBEA members are asked to lobby local TDs/Senators to push for Govt action on RHI and for inclusion of RHI in party manifestos for the upcoming general election.
v) Breakfast briefing for politicians and media. Planned for December/January.
vi) Conferences and seminars. Participate in events to publicise RHI urgency.
3. DoE request for input on revisions to EU Emissions Trading Scheme. As reported in the 27 November Weekly Noticeboard, in July 2015 the European Commission introduced a legislative proposal to revise the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) for the period after the year 2020. The proposal forms part of the process of delivering on the EU’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by the year 2030, in accordance with the EU’s 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework. Ireland actively participates in the EU ETS.  In order to inform national policy in respect of ongoing EU deliberations on the proposal, the views of interested parties in Ireland are being sought on the proposal itself. With support from Tom Bruton of BioXL, and following consultation with members, IrBEA submitted a short response by due date of 2nd December, viewable here.
4. Biogas Workshop & Networking event postponed until early February. This Biogas for Farming and Food producers event, originally timed for 8th December at AFBI, has been postponed until early Feb 2016. More details in January. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Michael Hegarty
IrBEA General Manager