IrBEA highlighted the crucial role and potential of bioenergy in response to a number of dedicated topics. The organisation highlighted some general points regarding the emerging sector, and in particular, the role the bioenergy sectors of solid biomass, biogas/biomethane, liquid biofuels and biochar must play in the successful development of a bioeconomy in Ireland.
Stephen McCormack, project executive at IrBEA said: “The potential for the growth and development of a mainstream bioeconomy here in Ireland is huge with bioenergy being a key enabler of this potential.
"In order for this growth and potential to be realised, a carefully developed, actionable and resourced action plan is required from Government. This will require ongoing collaboration across a wide range of stakeholders and across Government departments, continuous focus at scaling technologies and processes beyond the laboratory, as well as a sustained communication and outreach campaign targeting all walks of life, to enable the transition to a biobased economy with bioenergy being a central pillar.”
Many stakeholders are currently key enablers of the bioeconomy and already actively involved in the bioeconomy space, but they don’t realise it, the organisation said. They are operating both in Ireland and abroad. These stakeholders include biofuel producers, technology providers, designers and installers, supply chains and logistics responsible for mobilising biomass feedstocks, biomass analytical companies, researchers, farmers and foresters.
Bioenergy is very important to develop supply chains which potentially in the future could evolve to feed an emerging bioeconomy, said IrBEA.
Seán Finan, CEO of IrBEA, said: “The bioeconomy and the bioenergy sector are intrinsically linked and wholly complimentary. The successful development of a bioeconomy here in Ireland will depend first and foremost on the mobilisation of biomass feedstock - an activity many IrBEA members have been involved in for many years.
"Current Government policy does not strongly focus on the development of biomass supply chains with favourable incentives and supports. Biomass supply chains have potential to be evolved and diversify into the future to satisfy a growing bioeconomy as it develops and matures.
"But without the supply chains being developed for bioenergy purposes in the short to medium term, this bioeconomy potential will not be realised. Bioenergy’s ability to offer a renewable alternative to fossil fuel use as well as the cascading principle of biomass use, as outlined in the action plan, allows for bioenergy to potentially power biorefining sites but also allow for energy recovery from any biomass fractions that aren’t converted into other products.”
Some of the general points made by IrBEA in response to the consultation include the following:The mobilisation of biomass feedstocks will become increasingly important and many IrBEA members are already active in this space.
- Technology options should be considered across the spectrum of cost and complexity - both high tech and low tech.
- Cascading principle of biomass use - allows for bioenergy to not only power the production of biobased products and services but also allows for energy recovery from unused biomass fractions or end of life material.
- Enhanced activities with the Higher Education Institutions are required to ensure a pipeline of expertise and talent to service the needs of the emerging sector.
- There is a strong need for ongoing communications activities, outreach campaigns and ground up approach to embed the bioeconomy across all walks of life.
- An emerging bioeconomy can continue to provide further decarbonisation opportunities for the transport sector through the provision of sustainable transport biofuels.
McCormack concluded: “In making this submission and, with our ongoing involvement in the National Bioeconomy Forum, IrBEA will continue to work on behalf of its members and industry stakeholders, many of whom are already championing the innovation required to develop the sector. We will also seek to assist and inform others who are looking to new and exciting diversification opportunities - everyone from our farming members right up to other members involved in research and development. A well-developed Bioeconomy Action Plan will enable the sector to flourish.”