Biomass in Ireland - Lessons from Europe


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There has been much recent interest in biomass as a renewable energy source, being heavily promoted by Coillte, Teagasc, Bord Na Mona and energy companies through conferences and campaigns to plant energy crops. This study considers whether there is a genuine future for farm crops and forestry as a source of biomass, beginning with a review of academic studies in a European context and then considering Denmark as a case study on account of its geographical and demographic similarities to Ireland, yet also having already made significant progress in the development of renewable energy in general and energy from biomass in particular. The National renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPS) for each country provide a basis for determining current status and progress towards EU 2020 targets. A series of mechanisms to promote biomass use, particularly through renewable heat incentives, have been drawn from the review of academic papers and the NREAPs were then analysed in that context. Policy, objectives and financial incentives for expanding forestry and energy crops were also examined.

The results reveal that while Ireland shares some common policies and mechanisms for stimulating biomass use and renewable heat, many of these are weak; other initiatives included in Ireland's NREAP in 2010 are no longer available. Denmark's experience suggests mechanisms not yet tried in Ireland, some of which could be cost-neutral, that would stimulate demand for solid biomass - and that demand is the stimulus that the forestry and energy crop sectors need.

For the complete dissertation, see:

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Biomass in Ireland - Lessons from Europe

  1. 1. WIP 4 6th November 2012The Future of Biomass Energy in Ireland: Lessons from Europe Chris Kennett, DT118 Supervisor: Eanna Ni Lamhna
  2. 2. CLIMATE CHANGE ENERGY PRICESChanging weather Proven reservespatterns outpaced by demandRising global Dependency on smalltemperatures energy portfoliosRising sea levels Inefficient use of energy resourcesThreat tobiodiversity Uneven distribution of energy resourcesEmissions control Diversity and efficientCarbon capture use of energyand recycling Local resourcesInternationalagreements ENERGY SECURITY
  3. 3. Climate change, energy security and price stability are all behind the2009/28/EC Renewable Energy Directive 20% reduction in primary energy consumption in 20% increase in energy efficiency 20% contribution from renewable energy sourcesFurther obligation for 10% transport fuels from RE sourcesIreland’s commitment16% final consumption of energy from renewables: RES-E 40% RES-H 12% RES-T 10%
  4. 4. Biomass: 10% of world final energy consumption IEA, 20071 hectare agricultural land yields 10-15 tonnes yr dry mass11,000 ha -> 30MW power -> 30,000 housesEfficiencies - max. 45% heat or elec., 90% CHP
  5. 5. We‘re the best in Europe at growing trees! Plus … Biomass can be sourced everywhere Biomass can be a waste product of other processes Biomass can be used in (some) existing power stations Biomass is especially good at producing heat Biomass can generate lots of employment But … Biomass gets less attention than other renewable energy resources.
  6. 6. Ireland’s 2020 targets require:Electricity: Edenderry power station (30% co-firing)- 5000 ha of short rotation willow coppice, plus- 110,000 fresh tonnes of forest wood chip, plus- 70,000 tonnes of pine kernel shellsElectricity + Heat: small-scale CHP & heat boilers- 70,000 ha of short rotation willow coppice (+miscanthus), plus- 1.3 million fresh tonnes of forest woodchip- 127,000 tonnes of strawElectricity + Heat: anaerobic digestion CHP- 10,000 ha of grass, or- slurry from 800,000 cattleTransport- 90,000 ha of wheat or 60,000 ha of sugar beet (petrol substitute), plus- 230,000 ha* of oilseed rape (diesel substitute)* As oilseed rape is used as a break crop in a four year rotation with otherarable crops, the actual land requirement is actually 4x 230,000 ha.
  7. 7. Small-scale biomass energy (short chain)Agri-forestry, Processing, Storage, Delivery Heat & PowerFarmer Consumer €€Large-scale biomass energy (long chain)Agri-forestry – Collection, Processing, Storage, Delivery – Generation, Supply – PowerFarmer Contractor/Energy Centre Utility Company Consumer € €€ €€€
  8. 8. How might we stimulate biomass supply anddemand in Ireland?Small-scale biomass energy (short chain) Stimulate ConsumptionAgri-forestry, Processing, Storage, Delivery Heat & PowerFarmer Consumer €€ POLICY, REGULATION & INCENTIVESLarge-scale biomass energy (long chain)Agri-forestry – Collection, Processing, Storage, Delivery – Generation, Supply – PowerFarmer Contractor/Energy Centre Utility Company Consumer € €€ €€€Stimulate Production
  9. 9. Objectives- understand the range of incentives that others have tried- understand which measures have worked better than others- examine scope to capitalise on strong agriculture and forestry sectors- identify barriers to progress- examine a comparable European case study where there has beensuccess- identify existing barriers and new priorities for IrelandMethodology- General background research through attendance at RE conferences- review academic research into biomass markets in Europe- identify a successful programme in another European country- compare policies, programmes and achievements with Ireland- recommend new priorities for action in Ireland
  10. 10. INSTALLED TOTAL WOOD & WOOD & FOREST LAND AREACAPACITY ELECTRICITY WOOD WASTE WOOD WASTE COVER (excl. water) POPN MW MW % Share % LAND km2 (01/01/2011)EU27 857561 14039 1.6% 35.0% 4185098 502,404,439FINLAND 18125 1807 10.0% 69.0% 303815 5,375,276AUSTRIA 24053 2024 8.4% 47.2% 82445 8,404,252SWEDEN 39198 3142 8.0% 74.9% 410335 9,415,570HUNGARY 9338 464 5.0% 19.9% 89608 9,985,722DENMARK 14482 704 4.9% 12.0% 42434 5,560,628BELGIUM 18552 554 3.0% 21.6% 30278 11,000,638SLOVAKIA 7326 160 2.2% 40.8% 48105 5,392,446NETHERLANDS 27292 551 2.0% 8.8% 33893 16,655,799PORTUGAL 17834 342 1.9% 36.5% 91470 10,572,157CZECH REP. 18680 254 1.4% 34.0% 77247 10,486,731GERMANY 153067 2042 1.3% 31.7% 348672 81,751,602ESTONIA 2702 35 1.3% 51.0% 42388 1,340,194SLOVENIA 3102 38 1.2% 59.8% 20151 2,050,189UK 89436 631 0.7% 11.8% 241930 62,498,612LITHUANIA 2738 16 0.6% 32.5% 62680 3,052,588SPAIN 97444 502 0.5% 56.0% 498980 46,152,926ITALY 103343 438 0.4% 35.0% 294140 60,626,442FRANCE 120377 286 0.2% 31.0% 549970 65,048,412POLAND 33145 42 0.1% 28.8% 304255 38,529,866LATVIA 2511 2 0.1% 44.6% 62249 2,074,605IRELAND 7639 5 0.1% 9.5% 68883 4,569,864BULGARIA 9603 0.0% 21.6% 108489 7,369,431GREECE 14306 0.0% 130647 11,309,885CYPRUS 1426 0.0% 18.8% 9241 839,751LUXEMBOURG 1720 0.0% 33.6% 2586 511,840MALTA 571 0.0% 1.0% 316 415,198ROMANIA 19551 0.0% 26.7% 229891 21,413,815Basis for selection +/- 50% Ireland’s figures; Sources: Europa 2012 Energy Figures; CIA World Factbook; Eurostat
  11. 11. Source: ‘State of Europe’s Forests 2011’ (Forest Europe & United Nations)
  12. 12. Decision: Conversionof Hectare of Land toBiomass CropClancy D, et al., A stochasticanalysis of the decision to producebiomass crops in Ireland, Biomassand Bioenergy (2012),
  13. 13. Cumulative distribution of willow and miscanthus investment optionsClancy D, et al., A stochastic analysis of the decision to produce biomass crops in Ireland,Biomass and Bioenergy (2012),
  14. 14. Policy Renewable energy policy (NREAP) Forestry & agricultural policyIncentives Fiscal instruments Obligations – purchase, sale and remuneration Obligations – use Spatial planning & regulation Other mechanisms Forestry & energy crop policy
  15. 15. Denmark Dependent on imported oil & gas 1970s (oil crisis) Diversification - own oil & gas initially (North Sea) - wind & bioenergy more recently Mature biomass sector (co-firing and CHP)Ireland Similar position today – depdent on oil/gas imports Expanding domestic gas supplies, electricity grid Focus on renewable wind energy (commercial) Development of marine energy (R&D stage) Biomass sector largely ignored (except co-firing)
  16. 16. Denmark Long-term, cross-party agreement since 1970s, leading to strong consumer/investor confidence Focus on infrastructure & decentralisation + tech. – 61% of homes connected to district heating network CHP/DH – fuel flexibility, evolution from oil/gas to REIreland RE policy and plans relatively new, status quo largely maintained Focus electricity grid – RE from wind and co-firing in peat-fired power stations No progress on district heating
  17. 17. Aim: Increase cost of fossil fuels, reduce cost of RE S&W: draws on gov’t revenue, inconsistent application Applications: taxation and tax relief, grants/subsidies Denmark Carbon tax on heating fuels ‘Scrappage scheme’ for older oil/gas boilers (€4.5m)Ireland ReHeat & CHP Deployment Schemes closed – agricultural, commercial and industrial targets Greener Homes scheme closed – domestic heating
  18. 18. Aim: steer investment direction, avoiding public purseS&W: stimulates market, consumer paysApplication: quota (e.g. FO) and bonus models (e.g. FIT)Denmark Feed-in tariff for electricity – incl. co-firing & CHP Biomass agreement: 1.4M tonnes biomass co-firingIreland Feed-in tariff for electricity – incl. co-firing & CHP No mandatory obligation for co-firing (aim: 30%) CHP component indirectly stimulates heat market
  19. 19. Aim: minimum obligation to use renewable energyS&W: technology specificApplication: e.g. boiler installation / upgradesDenmark Connection to district heating network obligatory if available. Very effective!Ireland None? Building standards?
  20. 20. Aim: integrated physical/energy planning, simplificationS&W: legal constraints, depending on territoryApplication: empower local authoritiesDenmark Simple ‘one-stop-shop’ approach to planning and licensing for new energy generation facility Empowerment of local authorities to plan heat networks and consent smaller applications.Ireland Many licensing/planning bodies complicate process, trying to simplify process for small applications.
  21. 21. Aim: encourage afforestation / energy crop plantingS&W: funded by ExchequerApplication: grants, subsidiesDenmark Targets 1.1M ha by 2030 (double existing area) Land competition / forestry obligations hinder prog. 550,000 ha presently, 2,500-3000 ha planted p.a.Ireland Targets 17% land cover by 2030 (~1.1M ha) Good support for forestry, poor support for e. crops 730,000 ha presently, 7,000-9,000 ha planted p.a.
  22. 22. Denmark Demonstrates long-term actions deliver success.Ireland Long-term but flexible policies and plans needed Creative no/low-cost funding mechanisms needed Simplify consenting process Consider empowerment of local authorities Detailed feasibility study for district heating needed Co-firing obligation for biomass needed – a quick win that will stimulate forestry / energy crop markets Review NREAP urgently!