CO2 standards should support deployment of renewable energy in transport independently of the technology used

  • The Life Cycle Assessment is the only means to ensure that CO2 emissions in the transport sector are accurately and comprehensively quantified.
  • Compliance assessments for vehicle manufacturers should consider the contribution of biomethane to emissions reduction.
  • Legislation should introduce a binding obligation to increase the share of sustainably produced biofuels and renewable gases in transport.

Brussels 3 June 2021 – The European biomethane industry has launched today in the framework of the EU Green Week 2021 the paper ‘Smart CO2 standards for negative emissions mobility’, which includes three key recommendations to ensure the deployment of biomethane in transport and consequently achieve a fast, cost effective shift to carbon neutral mobility in Europe by 2050.

Emissions from transport will need to be reduced by 90% relative to 1990. According to the current trends, the transport sector will fail to contribute to the reduction in emissions required to meet EU targets. To ensure the full decarbonisation of the transport sector, Europe needs to couple electrification with the deployment of all alternative fuels and technologies.

The biomethane industry welcomes the gradual replacement of fossil fuels in the transport sector, but the replacement of these fuels should not penalise the technology they use. Internal combustion engines (ICE) are compatible with renewable fuels, including biomethane. Just as renewable electricity is compatible with the same batteries that are now mostly powered by electricity from fossil origin.

The current standards have adopted an approach to measure the emissions performance of the vehicles that considers only the CO2 emissions produced by the use of the vehicles (Tank-to-Wheel), instead of considering the emissions produced across its whole lifecycle. This penalises the deployment of ICE. However, this technology is already more performant when used with fossil gas than diesel or gasoline alternatives, and high performing when used with biomethane (bio-CNG or bio-LNG1).

The environmental performance of biomethane over its complete lifecycle is excellent and has been scientifically proved in different studies, as demonstrated in this paper. Biomethane vehicles can reach even negative emission levels depending on the feedstock and technology used, but this is not recognised by the current regulation.

The updating of the CO2 emission performance standards together with other legal frameworks (e.g. RED III or DAFI) must set out a harmonised approach that enables genuinely carbon neutral and cost effective solutions to reduce CO2 emissions in transport. Eventually, this should lead to the adoption of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach in EU vehicle legislation.

Manufacturing and recycling can represent anything from one fourth to one half of the total vehicle emissions, but are entirely omitted from the current standards. Life Cycle Assessment is the only means to ensure that CO2 emissions in the transport sector are accurately and comprehensively quantified. Considering only tailpipe emissions leaves 93% (54 tonnes/58 tonnes) of transport sector carbon emissions out of the calculation2.

The CO2 emission standards should also include a new mechanism ensuring that compliance assessments for vehicle manufacturers consider the contribution of biomethane to emissions reduction. This mechanism could take the form of a crediting system or a carbon correction factor (CCF) as a function of the renewable fuel used. If a new mechanism cannot be implemented by 2025 at the latest, then the most efficient gas vehicles should be acknowledged as low emission vehicles within the current system.

The decarbonisation of transport could also be encouraged with a binding obligation for the EU to steadily increase the share of sustainably produced biofuels and renewable gases in transport, reaching 50% in ICE and hybrid vehicles by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

The sustainable production of biomethane for the coming years is large. There is a consensus that by 2030, the biogas and biomethane sectors combined can almost double their production and by 2050, production can more than quadruple. This is equivalent to 100 million passenger vehicles or 2.5 to 5 million heavy duty vehicles (HDV), depending on the type of HDV considered.

The benefits of the use of biomethane for clean mobility go far beyond the transport sector. Biomethane is at the heart of an efficient circular economy: it is the best way to recycle organic waste, produce valuable renewable gas and biofertilisers, promote sustainable and efficient farming practices and create jobs in rural areas. The potential of biogas and biomethane was also pointed out in the recent Farm-to-Fork and Methane strategies of the European Commission.

Download the paper ‘Smart CO2 standards for negative emissions mobility

Apply To Grow Your Energy Storage Innovation With The STEPS Business Support Programme

An exciting opportunity for energy storage innovators in North-West Europe to develop their technologies opens this month. The STEPS Business Support Programme works with small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and offers support to take their solutions from the test stage to market ready. Operating within North-West Europe (NWE), the free programme gives SMEs the opportunity to optimise their products and develop their technologies with real-life testing.


With the aim to drive energy storage innovation in the region and boost the competitiveness of its businesses, STEPS hopes to accelerate the sustainable energy transition on both a local and global scale.


SMEs developing energy storage solutions can apply for the call starting the 25th of May 2021.


Energy storage (e-storage) innovators in NWE face significant challenges in getting their solutions to the market, particularly when looking for opportunities to test their technology with real end-users. This can leave their development in a state of inertia. However, SMEs working to build a cleaner, more sustainable future should be given the tools they need to succeed and accelerate the green transition. That’s why the STEPS Business Support Programme is offering support to e-storage SMEs.


The programme combines business support and knowledge partners from Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom to strengthen the competitiveness of innovative e-storage solution providers in the NWE region. A wide variety of roughly 20 testbed locations available through STEPS, allowing SMEs to bring their products closer to the market through tailored, real-life testing. With 10 partners specialised in a variety of e-storage areas – from technology to business expertise – the STEPS consortium provides a user-centric, demand-driven approach to developing e-storage solutions.


Knowledge and business partners will advise e-storage SMEs on entering new markets in NWE, engage with potential end-users, and increase the awareness of solution providers. Going further, STEPS will connect providers of new e-storage solutions with end-users via a business support programme to increase their technological readiness level (TRL) through real-life testing.


As electricity becomes a more significant part of our energy mix, the requirement to be able to store electricity will become increasingly important. Energy storage is another way that SME’s can reduce their energy costs and increase their efficiency, if they can access systems which provide low cost electricity when they need it.
Michael Doran – 3cea EU Projects Manager


Through the STEPS programme, e-storage innovators in the region will solve local challenges and become formidable competitors in the global market.


Apply to the programme via the STEPSNWE Application Form

Questions? Contact our EU Project Officer Dewi Dimyati-Vliexs –

For more information also see our dedicated STEPS Webpage

H4.0E Spring 2021 Newsletter Now Available

The H4.0E Spring 2021 Newsletter is now available on our website. The fifth newsletter from the project highlights the news and updates from the first five months of 2021. There are updates from the European Pilot Sites; Gemeente Almere in The Netherlands, Province of Flemish Brabant, Kamp C in Belgium, Thoma in Germany, and our own Kilkenny, Carlow, and Wexford. There is an update on the Digital Platform being developed by Open Systems Lab . Finally, the Newsletter also gives updates on German partner EIfI-Tech’s activities in offsite & modular methods of construction as well as 3cea’s work on the long-term goals of the project.

You can download the H4.0E Spring 2021 Newsletter here

You can also read more on 3cea’s work on H4.0E by checking out our dedicated H4.0E website page here. Be sure to keep an eye on our social media and monthly newsletter for more regular updates on the H4.0E project.

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.


STEPS Design for Safety in Battery Systems Symposium Hosted by University of Twente

The STEPS Design for safety in battery systems, hosted by University of Twente (UT), took place last month on Friday 12th March. This Symposium was focused on emphasising the importance of safety when designing battery systems and addressed the latest and most important battery safety developments around the world.

The below report is taken from Interreg NWE Report on the same Symposium which can be viewed here

With more and more people turning to renewable energy, the urgency to develop batteries is high and there is no time for the technology, “to prove itself and mature,” said Professor Braham Ferreira during the Symposium. This high pressure to develop has consequences for safety. As Deepak Pratap Singh stated, the pressure to develop quickly pushes for scientific breakthroughs that do not align with reality. Hence, as batteries develop at a fast pace, the requirements for design for safety in a battery system must too.

In her presentation, Rianne ‘t Hoen described how every energy storage system contains high energy densities. When this energy is released uncontrolled, it poses a clear risk. It is crucial to research the hazards of different battery systems and be aware of their hazardous elements such as the energy sources, the chemical sources, the materials, and the environment. Fire brigades in particular should be informed on the different hazardous elements within various battery systems so they can react accordingly in an emergency. Folkert van der Ploeg, Fire officer Twente Safety Campus, explained: the fires caused by batteries are different to ‘normal fires’ and mostly unknown to fire fighters. Nearly all speakers highlighted that the development of EU legislation and safety standards is fundamental to designing safe battery systems. As discussed during the Symposium, there is not one key solution to creating safe battery systems. To improve the safety of our battery systems we need to develop the technology, standards, and our knowledge about the systems components and the system as a whole.

See University of Twente’s Youtube channel for the highlights of the STEPS Design for Safety in Battery Systems symposium.

Also, see our own news and updates of the STEPS programme here.

3cea CEO Paddy Phelan Appointed As President of IESA

3cea CEO Paddy Phelan has been appointed as the president of the Irish Energy Storage Agency (IESA) after current president Peter Duffy announced he will step down. This appointment adds to Paddy’s current list of positions on public boards, including President of the Irish BioEnergy Association, Executive Committee of the Irish Wind Farmers Association, Member of the Chambers of Ireland Low Carbon Taskforce, and Committee Member of European Biogas Association.

The Irish Energy Storage Association (IESA) was established to promote the benefits of energy storage in Ireland. IESA represents the interests of the Irish energy storage sector, shares knowledge and experience with energy storage players worldwide, and works internationally by signing International Affiliation Agreements with representative storage bodies from other countries.

The purpose of IESA is :

  • to represent parties in the energy storage space across a range of applications including; the provision of system services, exploitation of arbitrage opportunities in the energy sector, and maximisation of the benefits of renewable energy on the island of Ireland. This would involve a wide range of technologies including batteries, flywheels, super capacitors, hydroelectric, compressed air and thermal storage.

  • to follow DS3 developments and respond to Consultations representing the views of IESA members.

  • to actively promote energy storage on the island of Ireland in order to meet the needs of the I-SEM and assist in combating climate change. IESA aims to meet these needs through providing new system services to the Transmission System Operators.

To read more about the IESA and their activities, see the IESA Website.

3cea would like to congratulate the outgoing president of the IESA, Peter Duffy on two and half years as the president of the IESA and wish him the best on his retirement.

We look forward to continually working with the IESA to meet Ireland’s current and future energy storage needs. To read more on how 3cea are currently working towards bettering the competitiveness of Irish energy storage SMEs, see our work in the EU Interreg NWE STEPS Programme.


carlow Kilkenny Wexford energy performance

Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford on Track to Achieve 33% Energy Reduction Target by 2020

  • Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford County Councils are 30.8% more energy efficient than in 2009
  • The three counties avoided 22,700 tonnes of CO2 emissions in the decade 2009-2019

The recently published Annual Report on Public Sector Energy Efficiency Performance covering 2019 shows that the public sector was 29% more energy efficient and on course to achieve its 33% energy efficiency target in 2020, up from 27% the previous year. This is the third year of improved performance in a row, following the introduction of the Public Sector Energy Efficiency Strategy in 2017. The 2019 Climate Action Plan has increased the level of ambition for the public sector for the period up to 2030 by establishing two new complementary targets, a 50% improvement in energy efficiency and a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions.

Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford County Councils have committed to effective energy management to making energy savings and playing their part in meeting the public sector energy efficiency targets by 2030. Local Authorities in Ireland Account for 11% of the total public sector energy consumption. Read more

3cea Joins Engineers Ireland’s Sustainability Grand Tour

On February 25th 3cea joined Engineers Ireland’s Sustainability Grand Tour to present our Housing 4.0E initiative. The speakers for the event were John Carley, Alexandra Hamilton, and Ralf Kampe from 3cea, Sean Savage from Wexford County Council, and Colm Callery from Engineers Ireland.

The focus of the webinar was to discuss the aims of the H4.0E project, what it hopes to deliver, how it will achieve these goals, and to provide details from one of our sites in Wexford. One of the key objectives of this project is to reduce CO2 emissions in construction of houses by 60%. These Carbon emissions are known as ‘embodied’ and ‘operational’ CO2eq emissions. Operational emissions are those generated by running a building and “upfront ‘embodied’ emissions are generated by construction of a building. After a lifespan of 50 years, the upfront embodied CO2eq makes up 46% of the total CO2eq emissions and the operational emissions makes up 54% of the total CO2eq emissions. This shows that both categories are equally important and so we need to focus on the upfront CO2eq emissions as well.

Figure 1: Source: ©2016 2030, Inc. / Architecture 2030. All Rights Reserved. Data Source: Richard Stein, CBECS (2003).

To reduce these GHG emissions during construction, H4.0E looks to reduce carbon emissions by working with low carbon construction types and trying to use as much low carbon renewable building materials as possible. Factors such as low carbon design, logistics and procurement, materials, and insulation are all considered when designing these properties. By the project end, there are hopes that a digital platform will become available to perspective home builders to develop the plans for their property and estimate the cost and CO2eq emissions using the manufacture for assembly model. It is hoped this platform will also help reduce costs when building homes.

Engineers Ireland’s Sustainability Grand Tour is a series of webinars commencing on 20 January 2021 and consisting of approximately 12 webinars and panel discussions taking place throughout January to April. This series will seek to educate and empower engineers across all sectors to be drivers of climate action and will focus on topics ranging from road design to sustainable housing and energy efficient design. See below for a full list of the planned events and check out their YouTube channel for past events.

To learn more about 3cea’s activities in the Housing 4.0E initiative see here.

housing 4.0 energy

Housing 4.0 Energy Updates

News from the three Irish pilots

The Irish H4.0E pilot, overseen by 3 Counties Energy Agency (3CEA), will be located in South East of Ireland (Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford), with each region committing to the delivery of four zero energy homes (ZEHs) each — twelve in total. This pilot will utilise digitisation and 4.0 technology and integrate renewable energies. The main construction principles will be prefabricated Timber Frame and Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF) with the aim to use renewable building materials. Innovative technologies for sourcing renewable energy will be Air to Water Heat Pumps, Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR), PV and Thermal Solar Panels. Local Authority Social Housing tenants are the intended end users, with the aim of addressing fuel poverty.

Wexford County Council

Read more

Gas Networks Ireland Innovation Fund Approved

The 3 Counties Energy Agency has had an application to the Gas Networks Ireland Innovation Fund approved.

3cea has recently been notified that an application for the Gas Networks Ireland Innovation Fund has been approved. The Innovation Fund approval provides 50% funding for 3cea to conduct a technical study around decarbonising the Gas Network. The study will be used to inform strategic decision makers on the potential of decarbonisation in the gas network, which supports many industries in the South East region. Read more