The Irish Bioenergy Association hosted a very successful National Bioenergy Conference on the 6th February. This year’s conference focused on the technological advances, policy and practical on-the-ground facilities in operation in regards to bioenergy and the practical solutions that Ireland can utilise to meet its 2020 targets.
IrBEA had some very accomplished guest speakers at the event, all of whom had very useful and beneficial information to give. The guest speakers included:
Jill Euken – Deputy Director of Iowa State University, Bioeconomy Institute.
Outlined how Iowa is a state whose economy is based on agricultural produce. It is working to expand the product range from agriculture and has successfully diversified into the production of Ethanol for vehicle fuel. The focus now for IowaStateUniversity is to develop additional product lines such as base chemicals and bio-plastics produced from corn.
Mark Varian – Eversheds
Eversheds have recently assisted in securing £80 million funding for a 16MW CHP plant in Derry for Evermore Energy. Mark outlined the corporate structure of the plant and how the element of financial risk was dissipated through the 8 stakeholders in the project.
Des O’Toole – Coillte
Coillte manages the public forestry estate on behalf of the state. In his presentation Des O’Toole detailed the results of an economic study commissioned by Coillte to show how Renewable Energy Heat Incentive (RHI) could stimulate the heat market in Ireland in much the same way as it has stimulated the market in the UK. This RHI would cost less than expected EU fines for not meeting EU targets, and as such the RHI makes financial sense on this basis alone – however by stimulating renewable heat there would be numerous other benefits in terms of employment, import substitution and environmental benefits.
The conference also hosted the first meeting of the newly formed Energy Crops Subgroup. This group has been established to promote, support and develop the energy crops industry across the Island of Ireland, representing both the growers and businesses involved. The meeting was chaired by Michael Doran, who is an IrBEA management Committee member and a member of the Biopad delivery team. This meeting focused on the current industry issues, with a number of actions outlined to address over the coming weeks and months.
The subgroup recognised that energy crops offer significant economic, social and environmental benefits for Ireland. It was stressed, though, that time was of the essence to have a show of government support for the industry, in order to capture these benefits and prevent further market deterioration. An Energy Crops Committee was elected from the subgroup to represent all sectors of the industry and have produced an action plan which is available on the IrBEA website. See below the link for the IrBEA website: http://www.irbea.ie/