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Teagasc/DAFM National Bioenergy Conference

The annual National Bioenergy Conference, organised by Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, (DAFM) is taking place on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 in The Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone.

The conference takes place against a background where Ireland’s use of biomass to meet its energy needs lags behind other European countries. Biomass accounts for less than 2% of Ireland’s total final energy consumption, whereas in the EU 27 biomass accounts for 11.6% of total final energy consumption. Ireland has a target of 16% total final consumption from renewables by 2020. Ireland is the last country in the EU to introduce elevated prices for renewable deployment such as Renewable Energy Feed in Tariffs (REFIT)

Teagasc Bioenergy Specialist Barry Caslin said: “The introduction of sensible bioenergy policies tick so many boxes in terms of greenhouse gas abatement, job creation, developing land use alternatives and energy security. To quote JFK; ‘There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction’; is very pertinent to the bioenergy sector as we have to create the right policy environment to make it happen and the clock is ticking!”

The recently announced REFIT lacks clarity in terms of what peat power stations will be able to offer long term farmer growers of biomass. At the conference, clarification will be provided from businesses involved in bioenergy contracts such as Bord na Mona.

Funding options are available from Leader to help develop the bioenergy infrastructure and the Leader Networks will deliver their thoughts on the bioenergy sector.

Combustion CHP (combined heat and power) and co-firing at our peat burning stations for electricity production is beginning to happen. The proposed tariffs will see Anaerobic Digestion (AD) struggle to achieve decent paybacks for purpose grown energy crops or grasses for digestion. A representative of Bord Gais will speak about their plans and studies on biogas production.

The liquid biofuel sector is an area which has not received the level of support required to instil confidence in domestic producers of biofuels. This year’s conference will hear about the plans of BEET Ireland to produce ethanol from sugar beet.

Teagasc forestry development officer Frances McHugh said: “The private forest sector will need on-going support to maximise its contribution to the bioenergy sector. Timely action is needed to underpin our indigenous resources and help keep costs as low as possible for consumers and business”.

The conference will finish with a panel discussion moderated by RTE’s Damian O’Reilly who will pose the pertinent questions to Ireland’s main bioenergy supply chains and businesses.