Minister White gives no commitment on use of biomass in Moneypoint
Energy Minister Alex White has said he will look at a range of technologies to provide renewable energy in coming years, but gave no commitment on using biomass in Ireland's largest electricity plant.

The soon-to-be-published White Paper from the Department of Energy, Communications and Natural Resources will set out the plan for Ireland’s energy policy until 2050.

Minister for Energy, Communications and Natural Resources Alex White has confirmed the plan will look at a range of different technologies in order to help Ireland achieve its goal of transitioning to a low-carbon economy by this time.

Overall, Ireland must reduce its emissions by 20% between 2005 and 2020 under existing EU commitments.

As well as onshore wind energy, which the minister stresses is “not the whole story concerning renewables”, the plan will include solar energy, offshore wind energy and biomass - energy derived from organic material.

In response to a parliamentary question from Michael Moynihan TD, Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson for Energy and Communications, White said he envisages solar energy will be “an important element of our renewables portfolio in the future.” To this end he added that subsidies to support solar panels are being examined.

However, the minister did not reply directly to Deputy Moynihan’s question on whether he will look at converting Moneypoint, Ireland’s largest (coal-generated) electricity plant, located in Co Clare, to biomass.

Moynihan specifically asked the minister for his view on biomass and added that Ireland is “nearly at saturation point in terms of wind energy generation at the moment.”

The minister did not reply directly to these questions, saying only that some technologies are at "a higher level of development" than others. “But they will all feature,” he told Deputy Moynihan.

Co Laois part-time farmer Henry Fingleton is one of the leading voices in the country calling for the conversion of Moneypoint to biomass, saying it would be far more effective at reducing CO2 emissions than windfarms.

But a statement from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) in 2014 said reports suggesting that the conversion of Moneypoint from coal to biomass would solve Ireland’s renewable energy issues "are misinformed and risk creating false hopes". One of its objections was that "Moneypoint would consume far more than Ireland’s entire biomass resource," an amount that would "require over 300,000 hectares of land."

The SEAI said: "Biomass is a big part of the solution, but not the whole solution."

Ireland’s richest biomass resource is wood, sourced from the cultivation of high-yielding trees like willow and poplar, or from the thinnings and residues of forestry land.

Fingleton, who is strongly opposed to windfarms, is also chairman of the Protect Rural Ireland group, and is currently organising a targeted nationwide campaign to unseat a number of politicians who support the construction of wind farms or pylons ahead of next year's general election.

Fingleton said the campaign involves door-to-door canvassing, flyers and social media and will "place the protection of Ireland’s landscape, environment and people centre stage, and in turn seek to protect Ireland’s tourism, agriculture and equine industries."

Read more: Prioritise community-owned renewable projects, says IFA

Good week/bad week: winners and losers in Irish farming
We take a look at who had a week to remember in Irish farming and who had a week to forget.

It was a good week for…

  • Farmers in the Sheep Welfare Scheme, as the Department of Agriculture confirmed that payments under the scheme are to issue from the end of November.
  • Beef factories, after an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar defended their right to make a profit from the industry.
  • Farmers in general, as more farmers are set to gain from the new Areas of Natural Constraint maps which will be released this month.
  • The Irish Farmers Journal, as it took home the Digital Excellence award at the 2018 Newsbrands Ireland Journalism Awards held in the Mansion House on 15 November.
  • It was a bad week for. . .

  • Aurivo suppliers, as it announced a 1c/l price cut for October milk, with suppliers receiving a base price of 29.4c/l excluding VAT.
  • UK prime minister Theresa May, as despite finally coming to agreement with the EU on a withdrawal agreement, her Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and work and pensions secretary Esther McVey resigned.
  • Those in the Fair Deal scheme, as further delays appear to be in store for long-awaited changes to the nursing home scheme.
  • Some farmers, as despite updated legislation and Government guidelines, some actively farmed land remains on the register of sites carrying a heavy tax liability in the new year.
    The farmer's daily wrap: plant-based 'steak' and Nuffield conference
    Here is your news roundup of the five top farming stories and weather outlook for 17 November.

    Weather forecast

    Saturday is forecast to be a mostly dry day, with a few patches of mist and drizzle.

    Met Éireann has said that cloud will break at times to allow a few bright or sunny spells through.

    Top temperatures will vary between 11°C to 14°C.

    In the news

  • A new plant-based ‘steak’ appeared on the shelves in Tesco Ireland this week.
  • Looking at the weekend weather, it will be mostly fine and sunny, with some mist and drizzle in parts.
  • Payments to farmers under year two of the Sheep Welfare Scheme are due to hit accounts by the end of November.
  • Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has defended the right of beef factories to make a profit from the industry.
  • Leadership and the ability to attract good people to work on dairy farms dominated the conversation at this year’s Nuffield Ireland annual conference in Dublin on Friday.
  • Coming up this Saturday

  • More details on the Shannon dredging points.
  • Five reasons you should go to Dairy Day 2018.
  • We go island-hopping - Mayo style.
    EU cuts tax on Russian fertiliser by one third
    The one-third cut in anti-dumping duty is equal to €12/t on CAN.

    The EU Commission has cut duties on Russian ammonium nitrate by one third, raising the prospect of more competition in supply of nitrogen fertilisers and downward pressure on prices.

    The decision follows the Commission’s two-year review of the anti-dumping duties, made at the request of the IFA and other EU farm organisations. The duties have been in place for decades.

    Change

    The change, confirmed this week in the Official Journal of the European Union, sees duties cut from €47/t to €32/t for most grades of ammonium nitrate.

    The reduction equates to €12/t on CAN, according to the IFA.

    This would protect farmers and help restore incomes and competitiveness

    “Irish fertiliser suppliers must reflect this reduction in CAN prices to the trade,” IFA Munster chair John Coughlan said.

    He also called for a change in how fertiliser prices are quoted to farmers.

    “Many merchants complain that they can’t obtain quotes from importers or blenders. That needs to change.

    "Irish merchants should move to quoting for fertiliser on a 24/7 basis, reflecting the way business is done from manufacturers to blenders and distributors.”

    2019 review

    The EU Commission will carry out a periodic review of its anti-dumping duties on Russian ammonium nitrate in 2019.

    IFA president Joe Healy said that the Commission should introduce a minimum import price system.

    “This would protect farmers and help restore incomes and competitiveness. Some EU manufacturers have become accustomed to double-digit profit margins due to the protection afforded by EU anti-dumping duties and customs tariff.”

    Read more

    Analysis: are we entering a period of fertiliser price rises?

    EU on track to cut fertiliser tax