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32
JULY 2019
Energy Focus
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
33
JULY 2019
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
Energy Focus
to nearer ten tonnes. Many farms are growing well in
excess of that already. So, there can be surplus grass
available as a feedstock for bio-gas generation."
The viability question
While enterprises such as biogas are achievable from a
production viewpoint, what is still unclear is whether they
are financially feasible. The Bio-Energy CEO is adamant
that there is viable potential in the sector: "There are a
number of considerations. Firstly, we can do it viably
provided there is support in place. Without a tari it
will not be viable in most instances. Right now, gas is
sold at about three cents per kilowatt hour. We need
between six and nine cents for biogas to be competitive.
The viability, in turn, depends on the feedstock. From a
purely economic perspective, it is possible and practical
with a tari in place. We have to be very conscious of
the sustainability criteria contained in the renewable
energy directive. The inclusion percentage of grass,
for instance, is very clear. You cannot go over a certain
percentage or you fall outside of the renewable energy
directive regulations. So we need to be careful in that
regard. Slurry, in turn, is a relatively low emitter of gas.
The mobilisation of slurry will be a challenge. It cannot
be viably moved long distances so localised plants will be
necessary. We will need numbers of digester plants across
the country and that will allow farmers in the vicinity
of biodigesters to feed in slurry or grass and take away
digestate material. A co-operative model would work
best."
While Sean believes that a feed-in tari will emerge, he is
not certain of the timing: "There will have to be a feed-
in tari , as part of the roll-out of renewables. We want
it to happen straight away so that we are not faced with
ongoing fines for missing targets. It looks like it could be
further down the road particularly for biogas production.
We have seen movement on the biomass side with the
SSRH scheme in early June."
A positive start
Overall, Sean's assessment of the Climate Action Plan
is positive: "We have the plan and an outline of the
actions required. There is a clear commitment from the
Government around the whole bio-energy sector. What
we really need to see now are the measures to be put
in place to grow and develop the sector. The potential
is there and the feedstock is there. People are ready and
willing to invest. But we need the required supports to be
in place. Without those supports the ambitions set out in
the Plan will not be realised."