Investment in the renewable energy sector has ground to a complete halt because of uncertainty surrounding future supports for the sector. Government plans to introduce a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) next year to stimulate change from fossil fuels to renewable sources, such as forestry thinnings, for commercial and industrial heat production has resulted in a major fall off in investment, the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) claimed.
“Any part considering biomass as an energy source has postponed purchasing decisions until clarity is given on the RHI qualifying criteria and the tariff tiering/banding,” IrBEA claimed.
“The industry fear is that if greater clarity does not happen until sometime late this year or early 2016, then the capacity in the sector will be further depleted and the sector will struggle to respond to market demand post the introduction of the RHI,” IrBEA added.
It has called for the department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) to confirm that any eligible renewable installation, completed up to the date the RHI becomes operational, will benefit from the new support. This so-called ‘grandfathering’ commitment would ensure that projects can start planning, negotiate with suppliers, get supply chains organized and commence construction safe in the knowledge that they will not be excluded from the scheme.
“The exact same issue arose in the UK in 2008/2009 when an RHI scheme was first mooted. To prevent a complete market meltdown, the then UK minister for energy and climate change made an announcement in July 2009 that any biomass projects installed from the date of his announcement would retrospectively qualify for the RHI once it was introduced,” IrBEA explained.
IrBEA confirmed that it had written to Minister Alex White and his DCENR officials seeking a similar derogation to be introduced in Ireland.
The justification for an RHI is the contribution that can be made to Ireland’s 12pc heat target for renewable s by 2020.
The Government target is to replace about 200,000t of oil equivalent per year by 2020. This would avoid oil imports of about €120m per annum. On current uptake trends, Ireland could be hit with EU fines of up to €500m per year for missing the 2020 targets.
The Government plans to introduce a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in 2016 to stimulate change from fossil fuels to renewable sources for commercial and industrial heat production. An unintended consequence of that announcement last October (in draft Bioenergy Plan) is that the market has now ground to a complete halt due to the uncertainty created.
Any party considering biomass as an energy source has postponed purchasing decisions until clarity is given on the RHI qualifying criteria and tariff tiering/banding. The industry fear is that if such clarity does not happen until sometime late this year or early 2016, then the capacity in the sector will be further depleted and the sector will struggle to respond to market demand post the introduction of the RHI.
The justification for an RHI is the contribution that can be made to Ireland’s 12% heat target for renewables and the overall 16% renewables target by 2020. The sooner momentum is achieved, the greater the contribution towards these targets. On current uptake trends, Ireland could be hit with EU fines of up to €500 million per year for missing the targets.
The solution, urgently requested by IrBEA, is an announcement by the Minister for Energy to confirm that any eligible renewable installations, completed during the period from the date of the announcement to the date that the RHI becomes operational, will benefit from the new support as if the installation had been completed on the date the relevant scheme launches – a so-called “Grandfathering” commitment. It would ensure that projects can start planning, negotiating with suppliers, getting supply chains organised and commencing construction safe in the knowledge that they will not be excluded from the scheme.
The exact same issue arose in the UK in 2008/2009 when an RHI scheme was first mooted. To prevent a complete market meltdown, the then UK Minister for Energy and Climate Change made an announcement in July 2009 that any biomass projects installed from the date of his announcement would retrospectively qualify for the RHI once it was introduced.
IrBEA acknowledges that such a grandfathering commitment may create legitimate expectations with people who then proceed to install poor quality boilers and use undesirable fuel. As the credible voice of the Bioenergy industry in Ireland, IrBEA is committed to the growth of a sustainable sector and not only accepts these concerns but wants to be at the forefront of putting in place safeguards for taxpayers (funders of the RHI scheme) and end consumers (purchasers of goods & services).
We have therefore written to Energy Minister Alex White and his DCENR officials that for biomass boiler projects, only projects using equipment qualifying for inclusion on the Triple-E register maintained by SEAI will be eligible for inclusion in the RHI Scheme and projects must use sustainable biomass.
By anaerobically digesting food processing waste and/or animal slurries we can produce biogas, similar to natural gas that can be used for onsite energy – lowering energy costs, recycling valuable nutrients and lowering carbon emissions. Detailed examples will be highlighted and a discussion about the main aspects of building anaerobic digestion plants will take place. There is an entry fee of €50.
Who should attend?
Food Processors and larger farms who produce large amounts of food waste / slurry, and have large energy use on site.
This was a unique collaboration between several local community groups, including a GAA Club, local hotels, community centres, social and voluntary housing demonstrating the significant energy efficiencies that can be achieved through a collective community approach.
Local Authority – Energy retrofit in 140 Social Houses & City Hall Energy Upgrades.
The participants benefited from energy efficient upgrades in terms of internal lighting, insulation, energy efficient cooling systems, heating controls, renewable energy and improved energy management systems.
The great success of this project is not only proven by the 34% energy reduction achieved in the first year, but also by the impact in the day to day life of over 178 families, over 500 people and creating over 27 local trade jobs in 2013.
Under this years BEC offering free audits and information evenings has increased the participation from the community.
The SEAI Sustainable Energy Awards:
The Sustainable Energy Awards are held annually by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. They are intended to encourage, recognise and reward excellence in energy management in the industrial, commercial, community and public sectors. The awards focus on individuals, groups and organisations who demonstrate a commitment to energy management and energy efficiency.
This year the “Kilkenny Better Energy Communities” project was shortlisted in the “Community” category. A gala award ceremony was held in the Shelbourne Hotel on the 13th of November 2014 where “Kilkenny Better Energy Communities” won the Community Award.
This prestigious Award is a great recognition and motivation to keep working with local organizations, businesses and individuals to make Kilkenny a better and more sustainable community
Paddy Phelan – Manager, Carlow Kilkenny Energy Agency
John Mulholland, Acting Chief Executive, Kilkenny County Council receiving the “SEAI Community Award” on behalf of Kilkenny Better Energy Communities from The Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources, Alex While TD. Also pictured (l – r) are Dr Brian Motherway, CEO SEAI, Paddy Phelan, Manager Carlow Kilkenny Energy Agency, Elizabeth Cosgrave, Energy Engineer Carlow Kilkenny Energy Agency and Jim Dollard, Executive Director Electric Ireland.