EurObserv'ER logo

Biofuel policy in Ireland

The largest share of renewable electricity in Ireland is from hydropower and wind power. Ireland's target for renewable generation is to supply 15% of electricity demand by 2010 with major contribution expected from wind energy, as further large scale hydro development in Ireland is unlikely.  

The Renewable Energy Division of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is responsible for implementing measures to increase the penetration of renewable energy technologies in electricity production in Ireland. Ireland launched its programme to promote electricity from renewable energy sources in 1996 in "Renewable Energy - A Strategy for the Future". Policy on renewables was reviewed in 1999 with the publication of a Green Paper on Sustainable Energy. In December 2003 a further review of the sector was launched with the publication of the consultation document “Options for Future Renewable Energy Policy, Targets and Programmes”. This was followed in May 2004 with the setting up of the Renewable Energy Development Group, which has been considering the future options on policies, targets, programmes and support measures to develop the increased use of renewable energy in the electricity market to 2010 and beyond. The development of Ireland's renewable energy resources in electricity generation this has been achieved primarily through the administration of competitions under the Alternative Energy Requirement (AER) Programme. The six competitions held to date have been conducted under a competitive tendering process.

On 1st May 2006 the publication of the next market support mechanism for renewables was announced, to be known as the Renewable Energy Feed In Tariff (REFIT). In September 2009 additional categories were added to the list of eligible technologies, which at the time of writing (January 2010) is still not definitive as the schem is subject to state aids clearance which has yet to be obtained from the European Commission . The planned Terms of Conditions of the following REFIT II - Additional Categories (September 2009) relate to support for the construction of  biomass/anaerobic digestion CHP, ocean energy (wave and tidal) and offshore wind.

According to the Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources the target for the share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy in the year 2020 for Ireland is 16% (in the year 2005 the share was 3.1%). The Directive has a mandatory 10 % target for transport to be achieved by all Member States, which refers to renewable sources as a whole, not biofuels alone.

Renewable energy projections according to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan for Ireland
The National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) for Ireland was submitted in July 2010. The target according to Annex I of Directive 2009/28/EC is 16% for the year 2020 and the projected NREAP share in that year exactly matches the target.  According to the projection, the most important contribution in the year 2020 is expected from wind power (12.0 TWh or 1029 ktoe, 45% of all renewable energy). Second important contribution is expected from biomass (renewable heating and cooling) (486 ktoe, 21% of all renewable energy). The third largest contribution is from biodiesel (renewable transport) (342 ktoe, 15% of all renewable energy). Wind power contributes with 4.6 GW (12.0 TWh) in the year 2020 (onshore wind 4.1 GW and 10.2 TWh, offshore wind 0.6 GW and 1.7 TWh). For solar photovoltaic the 2020 contribution is projected to be 0.0 GW (0.0 TWh). For solar thermal the 2020 contribution is projected to be 20 ktoe. The two most important biofuels are projected to contribute 342 ktoe (biodiesel) and 139 ktoe (bioethanol / bio-ETBE) by 2020. The renewable electricity production from solid biomass amounts to 0.7 TWh (59 ktoe) and for biogas it is expected to be 0.3 TWh (27 ktoe). The consumption of renewable heat is expected to amount to 453 ktoe for solid biomass and 33 ktoe for biogas.

Renewable transport fuels (biofuels)
In February 2007 Ireland announced a move to a biofuels obligation from 2009. Under this scheme, fuel suppliers to the Irish market will be required to ensure that biofuels represent a cer-tain percentage of their annual fuels. With targets as high as 5.75% and 10%, the obligation will provide enhanced opportunities for farmers to contribute to this emerging market. Targets of 5.75% for 2010 and 10% by 2020 have been announced as part of the obligation.

To increase the penetration of biofuels, Irish farmers are also being incentivised by a new €6 million bioenergy scheme to top-up the EU energy crop premium by the Department of Agricul-ture, Fisheries and Food. Under this scheme, farmers will receive an additional €80 per hectare on top of the existing €45 premium. In that context, that Department is providing an additional €6m in the 2007 - 2009 period to support the supply of raw materials from the emerging energy crops sector for biofuel production. The €80 payment is limited to a maximum ceiling of 37.5 hectares per producer in 2007. It is anticipated this threshold will be increased further during the year. This is an additional incentive for tillage farmers to grow energy crops, particularly those farmers who had previously grown sugar beet.

The Department of Transport and Marine and the German-Irish Chamber of Commerce has in-troduced a pilot project “Biofuels for Transport” to incentivise the use of Pure Plant Oil biofuel among transport operators, in particular those with fleets of vehicles. The scheme, was launched early in 2007 and over 40 vehicles have been selected to receive a 75% grant to modify their engines. All selected vehicles will have engines modified and be running on PPO by the end of July 2007.

Ireland’s Bioenergy Action Plan, published in March 2007, commits to public bus companies moving as soon as possible towards a 5% blend in all their existing diesel fleet and to ensure that all of their new fossil fleet purchases are capable of using biofuels at blends of at least 30%. The Irish Government has committed to the publication of a Sustainable Transport Action Plan before the end of 2007, which will identify further measures which will help a switch to biofuels and more energy efficient forms of fuel for transport.

Future programme changes expected
No information available.


Renewable energy factsheet Ireland,
(sourced January 2008)

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR), Renewable Energy Feed in Tariff (RE-FIT - 2006), A Competition for Electricity Generation From Biomass, Hydro and Wind, (sourced September 2008)

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR)- Compliance with Directive 2003/30/EC “Report on measures taken to promote the use of biofuels or other renewable fuels to replace diesel or petrol. Compliance with Directive 2003/30/EC (Article 4)”, July 2007,

Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC (Entry into force on June 25th, 2009), download from

The National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) are all published on the Transparency Platform on Renewable Energy: (sourced July - December 2010)

Renewable Energy Projections as Published in the National Renewable Energy Action Plans of the European Member States, (sourced December 2010)

Interactive EurObserv’ER Database
Last update: December 2010

This information can be referenced without permission provided that thesource is mentioned completely and correctly: 'Interactive EurObserv'ER Database, (date of last update)'

Suggestions for improvements to the policy description can be sent to EurObserv'ER by e-mail:

The EurObserv'ER barometer is a project supported by the European Commission within the DG ENER 'Intelligent Energy Europe' programme and by Ademe, the French Environment and Energy management Agency. The EurObserv'ER Barometer is the result of the investigation and research work of its authors. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.