The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) met with Minister for Transport, Environment, Climate and Communication Networks, Eamon Ryan T.D. in recent days. The IrBEA representatives outlined the current work programme of the Association and priorities for 2021. At the meeting, Minister Ryan reaffirmed the Governments ambition to decarbonise the Irish Energy system by reducing emissions by 7% per annum surpassing EU targets.
Paddy Phelan, CEO of the Three Counties Energy Agency and President of IrBEA said “IrBEA members are identified as key to providing sustainable solutions to deliver this ambitious 7% target. The role of Bioenergy is clear in reducing emissions in agriculture, electricity, heat and transport. Bioenergy also supports rural development, rural enterprise and jobs and provides clean energy through local supply chains. Land use planning is crucial in the development of indigenous sustainable bioenergy resources from the existing forestry estate and opportunities for other measures such as agroforestry, energy crops and biogas to reduce emissions across the energy sectors”.
The impact of delays in the forestry licensing system was highlighted during the meeting. Timber, Energy and the growth of the Bioeconomy are all key deliverables of a thriving Forest sector.
Maurice Ryan, Director at Greenbelt and IrBEA Vice President said “the continuing delays in licensing from the Forest Service is severely impacting the forest sector. Forestry has huge potential and a very important role to play in supporting the agriculture industry in reducing our emissions. Forestry delivers timber, energy and for the bioeconomy. Forestry can promote biodiversity and land use improvement. These are mutually important topics and need to be part of future discussions.”
The failure to achieve 2020 renewable energy targets was acknowledgement at the meeting. It was noted that investing the 50 million euro fine paid by the Irish taxpayer for not achieving Renewable Heat target since 2010 would have been better invested over the years in Renewable Heat supports which promoted sustainable local biomass supply chains for supply of renewable fuel.
Seán Finan CEO of IrBEA said “Growth in Bioenergy needs to be recognised as one of the key climate actions to deliver sustainable clean energy for heat, transport and electricity that compliments jobs and enterprise through local value chains replacing imported fossil fuels. Lack of supports historically for Bioenergy has resulted in failed renewable energy target delivery in Ireland. In IrBEA, we will work with Minister Ryan, his department and SEAI to assist in the delivery of the challenging renewable energy targets for 2030 and always highlight the key role that Bioenergy has in this regard. Bioenergy has many socio-economic benefits locally and regionally which justify the need to invest in the required supports for Biomass, Biogas and Biofuels instead of buying the Renewable Energy credits from other EU members states”.
Paddy Phelan IrBEA President concluded “I was encouraged by the commitment from the Minister to the Climate Targets for 2030 and highlighting the role IrBEA members have in decarbonising the heat, electricity and transport sector in Ireland through increased use of Bioenergy including Biomass, Biogas and Biofuels. Lack of supports historically in heat and transport resulted in failed renewable heat target delivery in 2020. The revised EU Emissions targets of 55% reduction by 2030 is key and IrBEA will be collaborating with the Minister, his Department and the SEAI in the development of the revised National Climate Action Plan in 2021.”