IFA’s Renewables Chairman James Murphy has called on Energy Minister Denis Naughten to progress the proposed renewable heat and renewable electricity schemes, and ensure that the schemes are adequately funded and directed towards farm-scale renewable projects.
Speaking following a meeting with Minister Naughten last week, James Murphy said, “The message from the recent meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly, which is examining the whole area of climate leadership, is clear: action is required now. The renewables space is the agri-food sectors’ key strength in this area. We have the land, we have the knowledge and we have the willingness to respond. However, Government support is required.”
Restating the Association’s call for a Climate Activation Programme, James Murphy said, “Agencies such as the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) estimate that Ireland is likely to be hit with a compliance bill of up to €610 million by 2020 for breaching its current renewable-energy and emissions targets.”
This money should instead be diverted into a Climate Activation Programme, focused on the following areas:
- The announcement of a biomass development programme, which would displace electricity generated from peat and coal. This would eliminate 64% of greenhouse gasses created when generating electricity.
- The re-opening of the Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 65,000 tonnes each year.
- The announcement of a zero carbon electricity tariff for community based renewable projects. This should be used over time to displace electricity production from gas, which accounts for 35% of greenhouse gasses emitted when generating electricity.
- The scaling up of on-farm emission reduction programmes identified in the National Mitigation Plan, such as Smart Farming, Origin Green and the Carbon Navigator.
- A full review by the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Services division of the new forestry programme and a commitment to remove all barriers, as planting is down 14% year on year.
Concluding, James Murphy said, “Irish farmers will continue to play our part in addressing the climate challenge, through resource efficiency and farm scale renewable energy production. However, a well-resourced Climate Activation Programme for rural Ireland, which includes the five measures proposed and a focus on farm scale technologies including anaerobic digestion, has the potential to develop a diversification of enterprises, address environmental challenges and re-energise the rural economy.”