Labour TD, Duncan Smith, has asked Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Eamon Ryan to outline his plans to encourage beef farmers to engage in biofuels production.
The Dublin Fingal TD raised the parliamentary question regarding the government’s bioenergy strategy last week.
In response, Minister Ryan said: “The agriculture sector has the potential to supply biomass fuels and feedstock that can be used to produce biofuels and biogas sustainably.”
He stressed that direct supports for the agriculture sector are a matter for Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue.
Ryan referred to the Biofuels Obligation Scheme, which, he added, is a policy matter for his role as Minister for Transport.
He said the scheme stimulates demand for the use of sustainable biofuels in the transport sector and can “provide an incentive for the supply of feedstock to produce sustainable biofuels”.
He outlined that the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat supports the adoption of renewable heating systems by commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating and other non-domestic heat users.
This support, which his department funds and the SEAI operates supports the adoption of heating systems that use solid biomass fuels and heating systems that produce and use biogas via a process called anaerobic digestion.
“As the uptake for this support increases in future years, it is expected to increase the demand for solid biomass fuels and feedstock to sustainably produce biogas.” the minister added.
Biogas can also be produced via anaerobic digestion and injected into the gas grid – at which point it is described as biomethane.
“My Department, over the course of this year, is considering potential options that could support this activity.”
“While I do not envisage a direct Exchequer support, the National Energy and Climate Plan sets out the potential for a renewable energy obligation to be introduced in the heat sector similar to the obligation that is already in place in the transport sector.”
“If such an obligation were to be introduced, it could further increase the demand for feedstock to produce biogas sustainably.” Minister Ryan concluded.
In recent weeks, Minister Ryan said the “organics is the future of Irish farming, especially for beef and lamb”.
He made the statement during a Dáil debate in response to Independent TD’s remarks, Matt Shanahan. He called on the government to consider a new BEAM scheme to support beef finishers and farmers.
Minister Ryan said, “it is in the interest of farmers to go in this green way because it is the best way of guaranteeing a price”.