EU approval for renewable heat scheme welcomed – but urgency called for

Confirmation that the EU has formally approved the state aid application for the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) has been welcomed by the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA).

The group has called for the scheme to be opened immediately in response to the state aid approval.

IrBEA CEO Seán Finan commented on the matter, saying: “The Irish heat sector is currently in a state of stagnation.

“The industry has waited for many years for the opening of a support scheme for renewable heat.

The approval of the Irish state aid application by the EU Commission is a positive development and is the impetus and stimulus that the industry needs at this time.

Finan said the move needs to be followed immediately with the launch of the SSRH scheme by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

“Our members demand that the scheme is launched immediately so that they can begin planning and putting the necessary arrangements in place for the upcoming projects, which will be delivered under the scheme.”

The SSRH will help to decarbonise the heat sector, encourage the move from fossil-based to biomass-based heating systems, while assisting in obligations in terms of renewable heat targets, according to the association.

Farmers – particularly in the pig, poultry and horticulture sector – will benefit; while heat users in the non-emission trading, non-single domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural and public sectors will also benefit from this scheme, the group says.

The scheme will pay an operational aid based on eligible heat use which reduces as heat output increases.

The CEO said: “The scheme needs to be properly funded and not administratively heavy which would hinder uptake. The scheme offers significant potential to decarbonise our heat sector and move away from fossil fuel sources to renewable biomass energy heating systems.

“IrBEA continues to play its part in the development of the biomass heating and wood fuels sector through the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) scheme and also through our SEAI funded Biomass Practitioners Register project which is creating a register of competent biomass heating systems, designers and installers,” Finan concluded.