Call for Ireland to introduce RHI to boost bioenergy

Ireland should launch the renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme to help create jobs and accelerate the switch from fossil fuels to bioenergy, according to the Irish BioEnergy Association (IrBEA).

A RHI, which has been promised for more than a year and is still under discussion at the Department of Energy, would benefit both farmers and those installing the heating systems, as well as helping to reduce costs and emissions, the IrBEA said.

The association's annual conference was told the introduction of an incentive for business would drive the bioenergy sector to double in size and create 3,000 jobs.

It wants incentive of €0.076 per kWh, falling to €0.002 per kWh above 1MW.

Ireland has been slow to uptake the RHI system, which has been place in the UK since 2011. The RHI operates in a similar manner to the UK's Feed-in-Tariff system, and was introduced through the same legislation — the Energy Act 2008.

A FIT a policy mechanism designed to accelerate investment in renewable energy technologies. It achieves this by offering long-term contracts to renewable energy producers, typically based on the cost of generation of each technology.

'Island economy'
IrBEA president, Michael Doran, said: "The bioenergy sector sits at the intersection of energy, agriculture and climate change policies. It is also unique in that it is a truly regionalised, ground-up industry that stimulates economic activity locally for farmers, those involved in designing and installing bioenergy systems and the businesses and consumers that benefit from effective, secure and sustainable heating.

"We need to accelerate the switch to renewable sources of power right across our economy, in electricity, in transport and in heating.

"This is our obligation under international treaties to prevent potentially catastrophic climate change, and in our own self-interest as a society and an island economy that is dependent on imported, polluting fossil fuels for 85% of our energy needs."

Eamonn McGrath, commercial director of Ireland-based renewable energy firm Gaelectric, stressed the sector must make the business case to attract investors for the sector to expand.

He said: "With the right mix of policies, the Irish bioenergy sector can double in size. The alternative scenarios of fines of up to €600m a year for missing EU targets, lost opportunities for job creation and continuing dependence on imported, polluting fossil fuels should not be acceptable."

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