An independent TD has urged Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to support the biofuel industry, which the TD says has the potential to reduce carbon emissions in the transport and home-heating sectors.

Deputy Richard O’Donoghue said using biodigesters to capture gas and sell it to the grid can help reduce Ireland’s emissions. He explained:

“Biofuels can reduce our emissions from home heating, if we mix them with home heating oil, in the order of 50%. This would help where people have no alternatives, and they would still be doing their bit to reduce emissions.”

Some farmers are asking to be “energy farmers” by growing grasses that can be used in biodigesters along with manure, food waste and timber residue, the deputy added.

Deputy O’Donoghue raised the matter of biofuels with the Tánaiste in a recent Dáil debate (Thursday, May 19).

While the deputy said that putting aside land for biofuel production would minimise the requirement for nitrogen from Russia, the Tánaiste added that this would affect the amount of food produced and, potentially, its cost.

However, as schemes and programmes assisting businesses to decarbonise are developed, the Tánaiste believes biofuels will be part of the mix.

Biofuel industry

The independent TD also addressed that the Climate Action Committee, chaired by Limerick TD Brian Leddin, “refused to meet” with members of the biofuel industry.

In response, the Tánaiste said he was not aware of this, however, his department officials have met representatives of Liquid Gas Ireland on the matter of biofuels.

A structure put in place with Gas Networks Ireland, the ESB and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland was suggested by the deputy, which, he said, would allow people to sell to the grid and earn a living while playing their part in climate action.

Deputy O’Donoghue urged the Tánaiste to not leave the issue to the departments responsible for agriculture, climate and the environment, and to provide business support schemes for the industry.