The answer to the impending shortage of peat for the horticultural sector is to establish a sustainable anaerobic digestion (AD) and bio-fertiliser industry in Ireland.
That is according to Pat Smith, managing director of Local Power Ltd – a supplier of renewable energy solutions to homes, businesses and farms.
He said that Ireland is once again an outlier in Europe with no real strategy or focus on creating a viable anaerobic digestion industry in Ireland.
He said this compares “very unfavourably” with Germany, where there are over 7,000 AD plants today and with France, where a vibrant bio-fertiliser industry is being developed.
Smith said: “There are enough farm slurries and other suitable feedstocks available for anaerobic digestion to generate at least 20% of Ireland’s future gas requirements while also providing a digestate suitable for converting into a bio-fertiliser and growth media to meet the demands of the farming and horticultural sector in Ireland.”
However, he said this will not happen without support and joined-up thinking from government.
“For too long, the official position has been that AD is too expensive and that there are other cheaper means of dealing with the challenges that climate change and meeting our international obligations are creating.”
“This is false economy, and the longer the government procrastinates in supporting the creation of a viable AD and bio-fertiliser industry, the bigger problems will become.”
He stressed that the problems of climate change in agriculture and the loss of the peat industry need to be addressed within the country as a matter of urgency.
“All it takes is a commitment to do so. It is time to stop quantifying and restating the problem and promising solutions.”
“It is time to start supporting cleantech and green solutions such as AD and bio-fertiliser that answer these problems.”
Concluding, he highlighted that these present real opportunities that can deliver solutions to the consequences of climate change for vital agricultural and horticultural sectors.