Dear IrBEA Members

1. DCENR working group on heat & electricity to meet. During this past week we received notice from the Decarbonisation Division of DCENR of its intention to convene a meeting shortly of the Bioenergy Plan working group on heat and electricity (WG1) including wider stakeholders. IrBEA will be represented by Management Committee member Tom Bruton in WG1. No date has yet been set for the meeting – and this would be the first meeting for wider industry stakeholders since consultations were announced 18 months ago.  The following are the measures outlined in the Bioenergy Plan to be coordinated through this working group:
  • Introduce a Renewable Heat Incentive [1] Only short updates will be provided on this topic 
  • Continue to Implement REFIT 3 [2]
  • Explore Green Procurement Opportunities [3]
  • Inform Consumer Choice in favour of Energy efficiency [4]
  • Address the Possible Air Quality Risks Associated with Biomass Combustion [17]
2. UK consultation on proposed reforms to domestic and non-domestic RHI. Just published in the past week, the proposed reforms aim to rebalance the scheme and ensure it delivers its objectives in an affordable manner and offers value for money. Up to now, the Non-Domestic scheme has supported widespread deployment of smaller scale biomass systems, particularly in sectors such as agriculture and leisure. In the Domestic scheme, deployment has also been dominated by biomass, mostly in generally larger houses with relatively high heat demands.

The document says some forms of support for biomass offer a relatively stronger value for money route to delivering renewable heat generation and contribution to the UK’s 2020 renewable energy target. However, the schemes must also support the long-term decarbonisation of heating in the UK. This means giving appropriate support to other technologies expected to have an important role in that transition. Deployment is still expected to be focussed on areas off the gas grid, including, but not limited to, rural areas.

The reforms are expected to drive greater uptake of a wider range of technologies and potentially also new uses of low carbon heat. This might include, for example, the use of larger-scale biomass fired heat in energy intensive industries and process-heating; the more widespread use of heat pumps in providing heat to homes and commercial buildings; the use of wastes in biogas production, and; higher uptake amongst those living in fuel poverty or in smaller properties with lower heat demands.

The UK Government is proposing that these changes are introduced in two stages. The first stage will be introduced from 1st April 2016 and will include changes to how the RHI’s budget is managed, with a new budget cap mechanism. As part of the second stage of reforms the Government intends to remove support for new solar thermal systems under both RHI schemes, in order to promote value for money. See full consultation document

3. CER notification to REFIT contracted suppliers for PSO information. The Commission for Energy Regulation has issued a notification to all REFIT contracted suppliers (ref D/16/4296) requesting the submission of relevant PSO information (i.e. estimates) for the upcoming PSO period 1st October 2016 – 30th September 2017 and outturn information in relation to the previous PSO period 1st October 2014 – 30th September 2015. This is required by the CER by COB on Friday 25th March 2016. Additional information, as outlined in the notification, is also requested to be submitted to the CER by Friday 8th April 2016 pertaining to the historic costs and output of REFIT plant. The REFIT information requested has been broken down in order to enable data to be compiled on a calendar year basis. Relevant templates for the requested information have been sent to suppliers, or can be downloaded here.
4. Maynooth climate change study points to weather extremes in Ireland. New research indicates that Ireland will be subject to periods of extreme temperatures, precipitation, and drought on an increasingly regular basis throughout the 21st Century. The research uses more than 150 years of collected data and sophisticated modelling to map and project extreme seasonal conditions on the island of Ireland. Projections show as many as 26 out of the final 30 years of the 21st Century are expected to be warmer than the hottest summer on record – representing an almost 250-fold increase in likelihood since the beginning of our observations.  The modelling also suggests that one in every eight winters will be as wet as the wettest so far experienced (1994/95 – the study didn't include the 2015/16 winter!). The increasing likelihood of dry summers and wet winters imply a significant challenge for water resource management and agriculture, as such conditions have historically resulted in widespread winter flooding and summer drought. Full details here

5. Biogas operators and planners course. The Centre for Renewable Energy & Sustainable Technologies (CREST) and the International Biogas and Bioenergy Centre of Competence (IBBK Fachgruppe Biogas) are offering a 3-day in-depth Biogas Operators & Planners Course at the South West College in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland (22-24th June). The course will be delivered by biogas experts from Germany and the UK with many years of practical experience in the biogas sector. See flyer and details here or contact  

6. Forestry Focus supplement in Irish Farmers Journal. This week's Journal (date 12 March) includes a 13-page Forestry Focus including special features on forestry and climate change, wood energy, wood mobilisation and forests and flood control.

Michael Hegarty
IrBEA General Manager

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