Sustainably-produced bioenergy will play a key role in Ireland’s transition from a fossil-fuel-based economy to a low carbon one.
That’s the view of the new president of the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) Paddy Phelan, who said the opportunity is immense.
“This opportunity has yet to be recognised at a political or policy level with adequate action and support measures which are necessary for the widespread deployment of bioenergy,” he said.
Mr Phelan said the bioenergy sectors covers biomass, biogas, biofuels, energy crops, and wood fuels. They are a key part of the overall bioeconomy, and have a significant part to play in its growth and development.
“As well as contributing towards Ireland’s renewable energy targets, the sector can be the catalyst to drive jobs and economic growth in rural Ireland while assisting to address the climate change and emissions reduction challenges we face as a country and people,” he said.
Mr Phelan, who succeeds Des O’Toole as IrBEA president, stressed the importance of promoting local energy supply:
“Rural Ireland can provide energy to nearby urban centres which need renewable and dispatchable bioenergy to support industry, and particularly the agri-food industry.
“This is all linked back to the broader rural agri-sector. The capacity for agricultural diversification and for agriculture to be a net contributor to carbon sequestration through bioenergy production is immense.
“Bioenergy is a mature industry across Europe and, alongside other renewable energy technologies, makes up the majority of energy production in many regions.
This means that the region retains the value of that energy. When consumers buy that energy they are buying local,” he said.
Maurice Ryan, the new IrBEA vice president, said the organisation has proved to be invaluable for the sector, and a great support to promote the mobilisation of timber from the private sector.
Sean Finan is chief executive of IrBEA, which is affiliated to Bioenergy Europe and the European Biogas Association.
It was founded in 1999 to promote and develop the bioenergy industry on the island of Ireland.
Members include farmers and foresters, fuel suppliers, energy development companies, engineers, consultants, and researchers.
It recently called on all political parties and independent political groupings to embrace renewable energy as a robust means to rebuild the economy after Covid-19.