The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) in the making for over a decade opened this week. Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton said farmers and businesses switching to biomass or biogas would give €300m under 15-year contracts.

Irish Bioenergy Association chief executive Sean Finan said this would first benefit forestry, offering an outlet for Irish pulpwood and residues.

“There’s a lot of talk about imports, but because of investment in forestry since the 1990s we have a huge amount coming on stream in the coming years,” he said. Grants for short-rotation crops such as willow are needed for farmers to grow them, he added.

IFA renewables chair Tom Short said the SSRH remained part of a “piecemeal” policy, especially the low support offered for biogas, which “undermines the long-term financial viability of many of these projects to the extent that financial institutions have no interest in funding them”.

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Renewable heat incentive expected to commence from mid-2018