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Solid biomass 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 electricity and heat: solid biomass
The above-mentioned RE-FIT should result in an increase in the capacity of renewable electricity generating plants to at least 1,450 MW installed by the year 2010. This results in the support of an additional 400 MW of new electricity generation plants powered by biomass, hydropower or wind energy. The support has a maximum duration of 15 years and may not extend beyond the year 2024.

The reference prices for landfill gas are 7 eurocents per kWh and for other types of biomass 7.2 eurocents per kWh. The reference prices are to be adjusted by way of annual indexation according to the consumer price index in Ireland.

In the Greener Homes Schemes several biomass technologies are supported, namely wood chip or pellet stoves (with or without integral boiler), boilers or wood gasification boilers. The total number of applications to the Greener Homes Schemes to date (September 2009) is 26.352, of which biomass technologies account for 23% (heat pumps are 23%, and solar thermal is 54%).

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)

Greener Homes Schemes, Sustainable Energy Ireland, (sourced October 2009)

EREC, Renewable energy policy review, Ireland, March 2009

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,

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)

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Last update: December 2010

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