The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) is disappointed and concerned that the Climate Action Plan published yesterday does not adequately recognise the immediate and broad role of bioenergy in achieving Ireland’s ambitious climate action targets.
The plan risks ‘putting all our eggs in one basket’ on energy security and decarbonisation. The plan is at odds with the evidence provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These international experts, across several recent reports, including the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment report, state that to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, in accordance with the Paris Agreement, that the use of feasible renewable technologies, including bioenergy, needs to be rapidly expanded in the short term.
Seán Finan, Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) CEO said: “Bioenergy gets just one mention in the overall climate action plan published yesterday. The plan fails to recognise the significant immediate role and contribution that bioenergy can make to emissions reduction, renewable energy targets and the broader environmental and economic benefits that bioenergy can deliver. The different bioenergy sectors including solid biomass, biogas/biomethane and liquid biofuels do not feature adequately enough in the plan. The recognition of their immediate potential, as proven, sustainable and renewable technologies lags far behind what is necessary to achieve the greenhouse gas reductions set out in national and EU legislation. The plan will not deliver if the level of ambition on bioenergy remains at an insignificant level, not to mention the reliance on unrealistic targets, unproven technologies, policies and aspirations.”
This version of the plan, like previous versions, focuses strongly on electrification of heat and transport but with an increased emphasis on the potential for biogas/biomethane and the role of liquid biofuels. The plan mentions the potential for biomass use at limited industrial heat level only and falls short in terms of recognising solid biomass as a proven, low-cost and sustainable energy source in commercial and domestic applications. The plan’s ambition and strong focus on electrification (88% by 2030) of high-grade industrial heat which is currently not proven or widely deployed, is not credible. Sustainable biomass is a proven, widely deployed and cost-effective technology currently delivering renewable heat at all scales and temperatures from domestic to industrial.
Seán Finan continued “IrBEA members are disappointed that the plan fails to recognise the need and potential to immediately accelerate the broad uptake of bioenergy technology deployment in Ireland. Despite some positive aspects of the plan, the future contribution of bioenergy in Ireland’s renewable energy mix is not meaningfully recognised in contrast to what’s currently happening in many states across Europe in terms of policy and deployment of bioenergy”
Noel Gavigan, IrBEA Technical Executive noted: “The plan is also at odds with other EU member states who consider bioenergy to be central to decarbonisation. This and previous Climate Action Plans have put significant focus on a very small pool of technologies such as electrification of cars, deep retrofit of houses, and electrification of heat. Generally, electricity is the most expensive means by which to heat water or space. With the first three years of this decade now complete the uptake of these technologies are falling far short of the Climate Action Plan expectations. It is becoming abundantly clear that the plan is set to fail significantly to meet 2025 and 2030 targets. Narrow focus on technologies that rely only on electrification is a very risky policy. This is particularly so as at a time when the public is being asked to be careful about when they use electricity – this plan seeks to make Ireland doubly reliant on having a secure renewable electricity grid delivering substantially more power than today. Instead of taking pressure off the electricity grid, the plan proposes to add more demands to it. Other EU member states clearly see the need to develop a wider range of technologies and are ensuring secure supply though having this approach.”
Ambition for district heating with potential to be fuelled by bioenergy, biogas/biomethane and bioliquids is welcome. The acknowledgement that biofuels have played a significant role in reducing transport emissions and will remain a core transitional measure for the medium-term reduction of GHG emissions is also positive.
Seán Finan concluded: “E10 (10% ethanol in petrol) needs to be implemented immediately and increased urgency on biofuel blending up to B12 and B20 (12% and 20% biodiesel in diesel) is required. The ambition in terms of biomethane deployment is welcomed with an updated target of 5.7Twh by 2030. The proposal to develop a biomethane strategy within the next six months to reach this target signals the urgency required. This biomethane strategy needs to be accompanied by a package of incentives, supports and policy measures to mobilise the sector. Biomethane is recognised in the plan for its potential to deliver zero emission gas-fired electricity generation, high temperature industrial heating, provide alternative diversification opportunities to farmers, but the plan does not mention the potential of biomethane as a transport fuel. We acknowledge the recognition and support in the plan for our European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Small Biogas Demonstration project and we look forward to communicating the findings arising from this project in 2023.”
For Further Information Contact: Seán Finan IrBEA CEO on 087 4146480
Notes to Editors:
IrBEA highlights several specific aspects related to the biomass, biogas/biomethane and liquid biofuels sectors in the plan published yesterday including:
Solid Biomass is mentioned as having a role to play in the provision of decarbonised heat at an industrial level but is not recognition for its role at a commercial or domestic level. The commercial level is the current focus of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) administered by SEAI.
The plan recognises electrification and biomass adoption in industrial heat decarbonisation and lists KPI’s for industry that “55% of low/medium heat to be electrified, 20% of low/ medium grade heat to be converted to sustainable biomass and 64% (2025) and 88% (2030) of high-grade heat to be converted to direct/hybrid electrification technology”. The ambition and strong focus on electrification technology here, which is not yet proven for high grade heat, does not make sense at the expense of sustainable biomass which is cheaper, widely available, proven and a deployed technology currently delivering renewable heat in Ireland at high temperature.
The plan is ambitious in terms of biomethane deployment with an updated target of 5.7Twh by 2030 and the plan to develop a biomethane strategy within the next six months is to be welcomed.
Biomethane and hydrogen is recognised for its potential to deliver zero emission gas fired electricity generation, high temperature industrial heating, provide alternative diversification opportunities to farmers but not recognised for its potential in transport decarbonisation.
IrBEA acknowledges the recognition and support in the plan for its European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Small Biogas Demonstration project and the dissemination of the learning arising from this project in 2023.
There is a recognition that Bioeconomy processes require actors working across sectors to: unlock the full potential and cascading use of biomass.
The recognition that liquid biofuels have played a significant role in reducing transport emissions and will remain a core transitional measure for the medium-term reduction of GHG emissions is welcomed. The plan to implement E10 (10% ethanol in petrol) in 2023 is confirmed but this should have been implemented several years ago. Increased biodiesel blending rates to B12 and B20 (12% and 20% biodiesel in diesel) need to be implemented more swiftly than 2030.
The domestic heat decarbonisation plan is short-sighted to solely focuses on an electrification decarbonisation solution with no recognition of the potential for bioliquid or solid biomass fuelled appliances. These appliances using either sustainable liquid biofuels or Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) scheme certified dry wood fuels as a decarbonisation technology option, replicating these technology option widely deployed and policy supported in many other EU countries.
The lack of any recognition and no mention of the role for HVO in decarbonisation heat and transport is a missed opportunity.
Energy crops get no mention and a grant aid scheme for willow short rotation coppice should be reinstated in tandem with greatly increased promotion of the SSRH for local sustainable and workable heat solutions.
The ambition for district heating is welcomed. Biomass is a proven, low cost and sustainable energy sources for district heating throughout Europe, and that coupled with increasing levels of indigenous sustainable biomass set to come on stream from forestry it fully addresses security of supply concerns in relation to fossil fuels.
The ambition afforestation target is welcomed however the plan does not recognise the importance of developing the wood fuel sector in parallel, supplying quality, dry, certified wood fuels under the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) scheme label via local supply chains and providing an outlet for sustainable forest management thinning material.