The Role of Bioenergy in Decarbonising Ireland
On the second day of the SEAI Energy Show 2021 The Irish BioEnergy Association (IrBEA) with 3cea CEO, Paddy Phelan, presented their thoughts on ‘The Role of Bioenergy in Decarbonising Ireland’. The presentation was chaired by Seán Finan from the IrBEA and featured Teresa Patton (Green Generation), Noel Gavigan (IrBEA), and Paddy Phelan (3cea) as panelists.
Teresa Patton Discusses Bioenergy in Transport
During the presentation, the panelists discussed some of the current uses of Bioenergy, where they believe this can go, and how Ireland is well-positioned to fully embrace Bioenergy as a renewable fuel source. Terresa Patton of Green Generation discussed the importance of a circular economy and how Green Generation is looking to take food waste and use anaerobic microbes to digest the food waste and produce biogas.
Terresa stated that the emissions in transport can be saved from using green gas and she sees long-distance trucks as being a clear target for biogas. Using a representative journey of a truck going from Dublin City Centre to the outer county region, Green Generation calculates that the truck will generate 11289 kg of Co2eq in a year. Replacing these emissions with biogas is the equivalent of planting 806 mature trees. One issue long-distance drivers will face in Ireland currently, should they choose to switch to a biogas alternative, is that there isn’t many biogas refuel stations across Ireland. This is something Green Generation believes needs to be addressed in the coming years.
Noel Gavigan Discusses Bioenergy to Meet Ireland’s Heat Demands
After Terresa Patton, Noel Gavigan discussed the potential for bioenergy production in Ireland and potential sources for that energy. Currently, the Irish heat energy demand is 56 TWh (Terra-Watt hours or 1000 GWh). However, Ireland currently has the resources to produce up to 76 TWh of heat energy from bioenergy sources. These include agriculture and food-processing by-products, through biogas production, and especially through woodchips of which we have an abundance. Noel highlighted that The IrBEA will be releasing their Heat Plan next week which will highlight where they believe the future of Irish heat energy can be sourced from, using renewable sources.
Paddy Phelan Calls for Government Focus to Shift to Bioenergy and Away From Renewable Electricity
The call from Paddy Phelan (President of IrBEA) is for government focus to shift away from renewable electricity, which has failed to meet targets in the past and has serious grid constraints, and instead begin serious consideration of bioenergy sources to meet renewable energy targets. A historical lack of sufficient policy development or supports to properly plan to decarbonize the heat and transport sector has made the past few years a frustrating time in the Irish Bioenergy sector. During his talk, Paddy highlighted how electricity accounts for 20% of Ireland’s energy demand, whereas heat accounts for 40% and emits 22% of the total C02eq emissions. This highlights a clear need to position focus on renewable heat energy, where bioenergy is well-posed to reduce carbon emissions and fulfill the Irish heat energy demands as seen from Noel’s talk.
“There have been decades of under-delivery in this Heat and Transport Renewable Electricity Targets. The 2020 Renewable Electricity Energy Targets falling well short across Heat and transport.
Renewable Electricity and Electrification of heat and transport has been the policy focus, but the reality is that with grid constraints, curtailment and grid improvement infrastructure projects are not able to keep pace with the decarbonising targets for many years now.
I believe that BioEnergy as an indigenous, locally sourced dispatchable energy source that can deliver large emissions reductions across every energy community in Ireland.”
Paddy Phelan, CEO 3cea, President IrBEA
Renewable Energy Ireland’s 40 by 30 Renewable Heat Plan
To support this vision of the heat energy industry, coordinated by The Irish Bioenergy Association, Renewable Energy Ireland and its members across all of the renewable sectors and technologies have come together to launch the 40 by 30 plan (or Heat Plan as described by Noel Gavigan) next week. This plan establishes a vision for 2030 on how the Irish government through comprehensive and well-thought-out actions can deliver 40% renewable heat by 2030 across. The plan has identifies the potential resources, technologies, costs and sets out a clear pathway and new vision to deliver the 7% carbon emissions reductions required.
Closing out his talk, Paddy Phelan called on government and ministers to act immediately following the publication of the 40 by 30 Renewable Heat Plan and adopt it from Renewable Energy Ireland into the upcoming revision of the Climate Action Plan. Paddy stated that it’s time to ramp up the supports around BioEnergy to decarbonize the sector, refocus policymakers, and deliver the required actions to support the transition of heat and transport away for fossil fuels to areas such as imported gas and oil to deliver the significant emissions reduction potential from the BioEnergy Industry.
To learn more on the role of bioenergy in decarbonising Ireland and bioenergy in Ireland see the IrBEA website
And keep an eye out on our website for the release of the 40 by 30 Renewable Heat Plan.