Biomethane, solid biomass, liquid biofuels and biochar will play a crucial role in the successful development of a bio-economy here in Ireland, the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) has said.
The potential for the growth and development of a mainstream bio-economy in Ireland is huge, with bioenergy being a key enabler of this potential, project executive at IrBEA Stephen McCormack said.
In order for this growth and potential to be realised, he argued that a carefully developed action plan is required from Government.
"This will require ongoing collaboration across a wide range of stakeholders and across Government departments, continuous focus at scaling technologies and processes beyond the laboratory, as well as a sustained communication and outreach campaign targeting all walks of life, to enable the transition to a bio-based economy, with bioenergy being a central pillar," he said.
Foresters and farmers, he said, are currently key enablers of the bio economy and are already actively involved in the bio economy space, but they don’t realise it.
IrBEA CEO Seán Finan said that bio economy and the bioenergy sector are intrinsically linked and wholly complementary.
"Current Government policy does not strongly focus on the development of biomass supply chains with favourable incentives and supports.
"Bioenergy’s ability to offer a renewable alternative to fossil fuel use, as well as the cascading principle of biomass use, as outlined in the bio economy action plan, allows for bioenergy to potentially power bio-refining sites, but also allow for energy recovery from any biomass fractions that aren’t converted into other products," he said.
The IrBEA made a submission to the recent bio economy action plan consultation, highlighting the important role bioenergy plays.
Firstly, it said that the mobilisation of biomass feedstocks will become increasingly important and many IrBEA members are already active in this space.
The association also said that an emerging bio economy can continue to provide further decarbonisation opportunities for the transport sector through the provision of sustainable transport biofuels
In order to ensure a pipeline of expertise and talent to service the needs of the emerging sector, more activities with the higher education institutions are required, it said.
"We will also seek to assist and inform others who are looking to new and exciting diversification opportunities - everyone from our farming members right up to other members involved in research and development.
"A well-developed bio economy action plan will enable the sector to flourish," McCormack concluded.