A strong attendance list of 190 were present at the annual IrBEA Bioenergy Conference in Dublin on Thursday 9th February.
The programme featured four sessions, the first session focused on policy where Fergus Leamy, CEO of Coillte, the leading forestry, land owning, renewable energy and panel products business in Ireland, provided high-level insights on how we in Ireland can optimize our bioenergy potential. Matthew Clancy, Programme Manager for Low-Carbon Technologies at the SEAI talked about the detailed outlook and challenges for bioenergy in Ireland.
The timing of this conference was particularly appropriate in light of the final consultation on the Government’s proposed introduction of a renewable heat incentive (RHI). This very welcome development can be the key to unlocking the potential of bioenergy in Ireland. Getting to our renewable energy and climate change targets, generating energy from indigenous resources, reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels, and promoting jobs and economic activity across the entire country, are just some of the benefits.
Reflecting the importance of this challenge we had a session on the RHI consultation delivered by Tom Bruton in the mid-morning sessions. Key speakers and advisors were present at the conference, and the attendees were given the opportunity to partake in a Q&A session to drum up ideas for a response to the consultation. IrBEA will submit a consultation response in mid-March.
After lunch, Session 3 concentrated on Project Finance. Garrett Monaghan of Arthur Cox covered the area of executing and financing biomass projects. He confirmed that capital is available for biomass projects but stressed the importance of planning, having experts on hand, and using funders as allies to help you get the job done. Garrett also looked at RHI implementation and addressed some of the current issues. Russell Smyth (KPMG) walked us through many projects scenarios which are up and running in the AD and W-E sector; commenting that there was a robust equity investment appetite for the sector.
Franceso Panzeri of Demetra gave the history of engineering and designing the ADBag. The solution is a modular system based on a prefabricated plastic bag, which is easy to be installed and maintained. Frank Donnelly of Northway Mushrooms detailed hands-on experiences of his farming business and how his dependence on different renewable energy supplies including biomass boilers and large solar panel investment has helped keep his business viable in changing economic times.
Further information about the Irish Bioenergy Association can be found on their website: http://www.irbea.org/