Tuesday, 21 September 2021
Department of Health
Renewable Energy Generation
684. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the engagements he has had with farmers or farming organisations with regard the potential of anaerobic digestion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44756/21]
Energy policy formation, including renewable energy, is the direct responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC). The Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM) continuously engages with DECC on all energy related matters from an agricultural perspective, as well as a wide range of industry and other stakeholder groupings.
The agricultural and forestry sector has a key role to play in the supply of bio-energy feedstocks as part of their positive contribution to the decarbonisation of energy systems through the displacement of fossil fuels and energy intensive materials. With this in mind, my Department has had extensive engagement with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on their recent National Heat Study project which aims to assess, amongst other things, the ability of the agricultural sector to provide relevant feedstocks to the Anaerobic Digestion industry.
DAFM also continues to support research, development and demonstration in this particular area. Of particular importance are two projects which have received part-funding from this Department through the European Innovation Partnerships initiative (EIP), as part of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. The Bio-refinery Glas (small scale farmer-led green bio-refineries) and Irish Bio-energy Association (IrBEA) (small biogas demonstration programme) have both been awarded funding of over €900,000 each and upon completion will provide valuable information of specific relevance to Irish farmers.
DAFM also engages with farmers and other relevant stakeholders as part of it`s regulatory role in the Anaerobic Digestion industry specifically when animal-by-products are utilised as a feedstock for Anaerobic Digestion. There are currently twelve anaerobic digesters producing biogas in operation nationally that are approved and under licence by my Department.
Engagement with interested stakeholders, including farmers and farm organisations has been further strengthened through the current DECC-led public consultation on the Introduction of a Renewable Heat Obligation which will further enhance the demand and consequent feasibility of the developing Anaerobic Digestion industry in Ireland.