Farm Ireland

Friday 19 April 2019

Farmers 'frustrated' by delays in renewable energy scheme

Barry Caslin, bioenergy specialist at Teagasc
Barry Caslin, bioenergy specialist at Teagasc
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Delays in the opening of the second phase of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) is creating frustrations for pig and poultry farmers who want to invest in the scheme.

CEO of the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) Sean Finan has said that an installation grant was introduced under the scheme in 2018, however, the vital second phase of the scheme has still not been introduced.

He said this was despite a commitment from the government that it would be launched in late 2018 or early 2019. The second part involves an operational support for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems.

"It's causing a lot of frustration and stagnation," said Mr Finan. "It would make more sense to introduce a scheme rather than pay fines for missing renewable heat targets for 2020."

A spokesperson for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment stated that a formal State aid notification to the European Commission has been "submitted and it is intended to open the second phase of the SSRH for applications in the first half of this year, subject to the State aid process."

Meanwhile, over 92 applications have been lodged for the new grant scheme to install energy efficient dairy technologies on farms.

The average spend on the applications lodged with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) was €12,500, when the grant scheme closed for new applications on Friday. It's estimated that the average grant will be €5,000 with the 40pc grant payable.

Barry Caslin, Teagasc energy and rural development specialist, said they were pleased with the level of response in a short timeframe since the scheme was launched in February.

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Grants of up to 40pc were offered for replacement of variable speed drive (VSD) and vacuum units, plus VSD and milk pump systems.

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