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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: http://library.dit.ie/record=b2298079~S0