A new project is set to foster the establishment of bioenergy businesses in the midlands region in the coming years.
When plants and other organic material is burned to generate renewable energy it is referred to as bioenergy.
Biomass fuels are sourced from organic material including purpose-grown crops, residues from harvest and organic waste from homes, farms and businesses.
The Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme has been set up to provide mentoring, training and technical support to people interested in developing new bioenergy-based businesses across the region.
The programme is financially supported by the government’s Just Transition Fund (JTF) which is helping communities in the midlands to move from peat harvesting to a low carbon economy.
It retrains workers and generates sustainable employment in green enterprises in east Galway; Kildare; Laois; Longford; north Tipperary; Offaly; Roscommon; and Westmeath.
The midlands project is spearheaded by the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) which is tasked with developing the bioenergy sector across the island.
Members of IrBEA include farmers, fuel suppliers, development companies, engineers, local authorities and advisory bodies.
The project will assess the potential feedstocks and energy demand within the various counties and develop a knowledge transfer programme for potential businesses.
12 companies will be supported to process “indigenous feedstock” such as grass, wood and energy crops into items including firewood, wood pellets and biogas, which will offset existing fossil fuel usage.
Speaking following a recent photo launch for the initiative with Minister of State, Pippa Hackett, CEO of IrBEA, Sean Finan, said: “The project will support the establishment of bioenergy businesses and link producers, processing business, energy users and investors.
“Bioenergy is responsible for doing the heavy lifting in terms of all the various renewable energy technologies worldwide,” he explained.
“By supporting those looking to transition into this sector, local employment opportunities can be provided. This will help keep the economic activity generated within the locality and more importantly, reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels and improving energy security.
“We look forward to engaging with former peat and power industry workers, farmers, foresters, SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises], energy users and individuals within the region as they transition towards a sustainable low carbon energy future,” Finan concluded.
To help in the delivery of the Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme, IrBEA is currently recruiting a project executive.