Thursday 8 December 2016

New report suggests biomass could be way for Ireland to reach renewable energy targets

Published 15/03/2016 | 18:39

Annemarie O'Brien launches new report which says biomass will not threaten heartland rural industries
Annemarie O'Brien launches new report which says biomass will not threaten heartland rural industries
(l-r) Gary Jamison, HDS Energy, Prof Jimmy Burke of UCD, Dr Tony White of BW Energy, horse trainer Annemarie O'Brien, of Ballydoyle, and Malcolm Brown of BW Energy. Pic : Lorraine O'Sullivan

A LEADING figure in Irish horse racing Annemarie O’Brien today launched a new report which aims to unlock Ireland’s biomass potential.

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Annemarie, wife of legendary trainer Aidan, says wind power is not the way to meet our EU ‘green energy’ targets by 2020 – and that biomass, or burning wood pellets, is a viable alternative.

She says: “Doubling wind power is simply not the way forward. It is too expensive to build, too scarring on our beautiful landscape.

“It is too compromising of our indigenous industries like tourism and the equine industry that bring millions of foreign direct investment into our country and employ thousands of people nationwide.”

She was speaking in Buswells Hotel this morning at the launch of a report entitled ‘Unlocking Ireland’s Biomass Potential – Moneypoint Conversion’.

The report was prepared by two of Europe’s leading energy specialists, Dr Anthony White and Malcolm Brown of UK-based BW Energy.

(l-r) Gary Jamison, HDS Energy, Prof Jimmy Burke of UCD, Dr Tony White of BW Energy, horse trainer Annemarie O'Brien, of Ballydoyle, and Malcolm Brown of BW Energy.
Pic : Lorraine O'Sullivan
(l-r) Gary Jamison, HDS Energy, Prof Jimmy Burke of UCD, Dr Tony White of BW Energy, horse trainer Annemarie O'Brien, of Ballydoyle, and Malcolm Brown of BW Energy. Pic : Lorraine O'Sullivan

They argue that developing biomass is the best way to fight climate change in Ireland – not more wind power.

The report states that if the coal-fired Moneypoint power station in Co Clare was converted to biomass, Ireland could meet its renewable energy 2020 targets in one fell swoop – at around one tenth of the cost of Eirgrid’s €3.5bn GRID25 programme.

Annemarie got involved in the energy discussion two years ago when she and Aidan discovered that their farm where they breed and raise thoroughbred foals was directly in the path of a line of pylons that would stretch from Kildare to Cork.

She said: “If such a large infrastructure was to be built through the middle of our stud farm, it would have rendered the land totally unfit for use.

 “There are other viable alternatives to wind that must be given proper consideration. One of those alternatives  (biomass) allows us to meet our 2020 green energy power commitments on time, create more Irish jobs and at a much lower cost - to us - the consumer who will be paying for all of this on our electricity bills.”

 Eirgrid still plans 700km of pylons across Ireland to carry the power from proposed new wind farms – around 200 are planned comprising 2,000 extra turbines. Some of the turbines proposed for rural Ireland are up to 169 metres in height – almost as tall as if the The Spire were put on top of Liberty Hall in Dublin.

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