Farmers ‘key to increasing Ireland’s bioenergy potential’

Energy crops grown by farmers have great potential to expand the country’s domestic bioenergy resource in the next 20 years. That’s according to a report by the Sustainable Energy Authority […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

Energy crops grown by farmers have great potential to expand the country’s domestic bioenergy resource in the next 20 years.

That’s according to a report by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) which shows these crops alongside biomass resources from forests, a better utilisation of wastes and by-products could meet one-fifth of the country’s final demand.

It states once challenges such as low market prices and supply side barriers are addressed, the total amount of solid, liquid and gaseous bioenergy produced in Ireland could reach 3,290 kilotonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe) by 2035.

That is equivalent to 10% of the nation’s energy needs if the available bioenergy resource is used to produce electricity or almost 30% if it’s used to produce heat.

Eimear Cotter, Head of Low Carbon Technologies at SEAI said: “Using the available resources to produce heat at higher efficiencies can also maximise the energy and wider benefits for using bioenergy. The majority of the additional resource potential identified such as, willow, miscanthus or biogas from grass silage, would only come available at prices above current market prices for most bioenergy resources.

“Increased bioenergy demand leading to sustained increases in the market price for bioenergy resources can make these resources financially viable for farmers, foresters and other resource providers. Further supply side interventions, aimed at helping suppliers to bring their resources to market, can lower production costs and help the financial viability of resources at lower prices.”

According to the Energy Technologies Institute, farmers can earn more money and be more productive by planting energy crops.

Clean technologies are among the topics to be discussed at Energy Live 2016 on November 3rd in London. Get your tickets here.

There are limited free tickets available for energy end users and university students.