Renewable energy targets set out in the Government’s Climate Action plan in terms of heat and biomethane will only be realised if backed with significant financial supports, according to the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA).

Speaking on Friday, June 21, at a technical workshop on the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) Des O’Toole, IrBEA president and Coillte market development manager, welcomed the announcement of the plan.

“Overall, sustainably produced biomass will play a key role in Ireland’s transition from a fossil-fuel based economy to a low carbon economy,” he said.

The SSRH unlocks great potential to provide energy savings and carbon emissions reductions by lowering energy costs for Irish industry; it ensures these businesses remain competitive in a global environment.

IrBEA also launched the IrBEA Biomass Heating Systems Designers and Installers Register; commenting on this, IrBEA CEO Seán Finan said:

“Bioenergy as a fully dispatchable renewable energy technology can assist in achieving our renewable energy targets across all three areas of electricity, heat and transport.”

For bioenergy to become mainstream, meaningful government supports will be required, the CEO noted.

Finan continued, adding: “Industry feedback following publication of the Climate Action plan suggests that the plan ‘over-emphasises’ the part electricity will play.

“IrBEA fully supports the target of 70% renewable electricity by 2030. However, electricity is less than one third of our primary energy usage and we cannot expect to decarbonise the economy without addressing heat and transport decarbonisation also.”

Bioenergy is ideally placed to assist in this effort with heat and transport, the CEO claimed.

The potential for use of highly efficient biomass boilers and renewable biogas boilers in domestic houses cannot be overlooked in favour of heat pumps.

“Biomass systems need to form part of the technology mix to be used in domestic installations,” Finan stressed.

Noel Gavigan, IrBEA executive, focused on the workshop held on Friday, noting:

“Our SSRH technical workshop today heard calls for the return of the energy crop establishment support scheme to ensure that Irish indigenous energy crops and short rotation coppices are incentivised to assist in satisfying the market needs for biomass which the SSRH will generate.”

Growing these crops will also assist in the decarbonisation of agriculture and also support rural jobs and economic activity, Gavigan said.

“Attendees acknowledged the importance of competent designers and installers of biomass heating systems as well as quality feedstock certified by the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) Scheme as key components for the success of the SSRH scheme,” Gavigan concluded.