Bord na Móna has launched its new Bioenergy business marking a critical step away from its traditional peat business towards renewable energy generation and supply. The announcement was made with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten TD at the National Ploughing Championships.
Head of Bord na Móna Bioenergy Patrick Madigan said ‘In simple terms you will see the company move away from bogs and peat and towards bioenergy as the central focus of operations. After eighty years of bog operations, this is a massive step change. Bord na Móna Bioenergy will be sourcing sustainable biomass here and abroad providing green energy and green jobs to replace traditional operations and employment. Two years ago we made the commitment to exit peat for energy generation by 2030. Today we are making good on that promise and pointing the way towards biomass as a new green energy source for Ireland.’
This move is a huge logistical challenge but we are confident that we have now put in place the supply chain that will meet the projected demand. In the next few years we will be supplying 1.5million tonnes of sustainable biomass material per annum to customers including other power generators and large energy consumers. We are actively looking to develop indigenous supplies from private forestry and are also encouraging Irish farmers to consider energy crops as a secure income source. Government has been and will be critically important to underpinning development of this domestic supply.’
Biomass is Europe’s no.1 source of renewable energy but has not, until recently, featured as a potential energy source in Ireland. Bord na Móna will be using agricrops (principally willow) forestry byproducts including thinnings, brash, pulpwood as the main sources of biomass material. This material is currently being sourced in Ireland and abroad. The company also has plans to develop a pellet plant in the United States to supplement supply while large-scale domestic sources are being developed.
Biomass materials will allow the company to replace peat and provide a 100% renewable, reliable and secure energy supply. The company is already using biomass to co-fire its power station at Edenderry, Co Offaly. This has already resulted in a substantial drop in greenhouse emissions with further decreases expected as biomass is increasingly deployed as an energy source. The use of renewable, greenhouse gas neutral biomass is especially attractive as it allows electricity generators to dispatch power on demand and not be wholly dependent on wind and sun strength. The company sees this feature as an important compliment to wind and solar provision that would support further development of other carbon zero energy sources.
Employment in biomass will be derived mainly from crop management, harvesting, transport and end user activities.
Use of biomass would also enable the Irish grid to radically reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels would be a substantial win for the environment and Irish consumer as Ireland works to meet its commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Bord na Móna plans to use biomass in different ways from generating electricity to power communities and businesses to developing new products such as the Biomass Briquette.