Indigenous renewable energy ‘vital’ to meet climate action targets – Minister Creed

Indigenous renewable energy plays a vital role in Ireland’s domestic fuel mix. It will become even more important in reducing the country’s reliance on imported fuels – and in meeting its challenging renewable energy targets for 2020 and 2030 – and decarbonising its energy systems by 2050.

These were the sentiments expressed by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, during Dáil proceedings earlier this month after he was asked by deputy Danny Healy-Rae (Independent) what the minister’s plan was in relation to providing farmers with supports for anaerobic digestion and on-farm renewables.

Minister Creed said his department is committed to working closely with the Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment to ensure that the supply of domestic fuels available in the forest and agriculture sectors are mobilised to support renewable energy generation from a range of bioenergy technologies, including anaerobic digestion.

My department is aware of the need to encourage the utilisation of farm manure as an alternative source of energy.

He continued: “We also recognise the wider environmental benefits of using agricultural residues in the production of biogas/biomethane and, in particular, the potential for a significant role in the heat and transport sectors.

“However, the cost efficiency of this technology remains challenging due to the low energy content and seasonality of farm manure.”

Providing supports

Minister Creed then pointed to the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH), which, he said, “aims to bridge this economic gap”.

This scheme will support farms and businesses to adopt renewable heating systems including biogas heating systems.

“The SSRH has been developed to financially support the adoption of renewable heating systems by agricultural, commercial, industrial, district heating operators and other non-domestic heat users not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System,” he continued.

“Under Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan sets out an allocation of €300 million for the roll-out of the SSRH for the period up to 2027.

“My colleague – Minister Richard Bruton – recently opened the second phase of the SSRH; this is an operational support for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems for applications.

“Details of this scheme including the tariffs that apply are available on the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s (SEAI) website.”

Meeting targets

Meanwhile, Minister Creed went on to point out that his department’s Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes (TAMS) supports capital investment in a number of target areas that will promote low-emissions slurry spreading equipment and farm nutrient storage as well as renewable energy and energy efficiency.

I recently made €10 million available for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies following a comprehensive review of TAMS designed to increase its focus on sustainability.

“Eligible investments include extension of support for Solar PV Installation to all sectors and support for LED lighting as the only form of lighting to be grant aided,” he continued.

“In addition, other energy efficiency measures such as biomass boilers and water heating continue to be eligible investment items under TAMS.”