Potential of renewable energy must be harnessed

LAUNCHING IFA’s renewable energy policy in Co Kildare last week, IFA President John Bryan called on the Government to implement the necessary policies which can create thousands of jobs in the renewables sector.

LAUNCHING IFA’s renewable energy policy in Co Kildare last week, IFA President John Bryan called on the Government to implement the necessary policies which can create thousands of jobs in the renewables sector.

Mr Bryan commented, “There are tremendous opportunities for the renewable energy and agriculture sectors to combine forces to achieve the 2020 Renewable Energy Directive targets. Farmland can be used for wind production without impacting on agricultural yields, and crops and by-products can be used as a source of power, heat and gas generation.”

He said to ensure that the potential is realised, the Government must commit to the formation of a dedicated Green Renewable Energy Unit to co-ordinate the activities of the four Government Departments, the five state agencies and all stakeholders that have collective responsibility for the sector.

John Bryan added, “Ireland is currently one of the most energy import-dependent countries in Europe. Our peripheral geographical location and dependence on fossil fuels means that energy security remains a key challenge for the country. The problem of energy security is compounded by the price volatility in our imported energy supplies, creating uncertainty for all enterprises in the economy. We are spending €150m in imports per week to meet our fuel requirements. The development of renewable energy will create jobs and improve our balance of payments.”

Ireland’s Land-Based Renewables Strategy was launched on the farm of Michael Murphy in Brannockstown, Naas. He is harvesting his crop of miscanthus which will be delivered to the Edenderry power plant in the first large scale commercial contract negotiated by JHM Crops. Over 300 growers are now planting 6,000 acres of miscanthus around the country.

IFA Alternative Land Use Project Team Chairman, JJ Kavanagh urged the Government to match the commitment shown by the growers of miscanthus.

“The lack of progress from the Greens in the last Government was regrettable. Since the Bioenergy Scheme was introduced in 2007 farmers have made significant investment; now is the time for the Government to demonstrate the same level of commitment and introduce the REFIT tariff immediately so we can achieve our renewable energy targets. The delay in introducing the REFIT is putting the viability of the whole sector in question,” he concluded.