Farmers told to plant more forestry to help achieve renewable energy targets

Catherine Hurley

Catherine Hurley

Farmers need to plant more forestry the President of the Irish Bioenergy Association has said.

At the launch of a report, which calls on the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten to set a target of 70pc of electricity to be generated from renewables by 2030, Des O’Toole said farmers should plant more forestry.

He said that 740,000 ha on the island of Ireland are already devoted to forestry, 10.5pc of Ireland’s land mass, but more needs to be planted.

The amount of timber on the market is set to double within the next 10 years, according to Des, as “all the forestry that was planted 15 to 20 years ago, it’ll all be coming to the market within the next 10 years.”

“We support the call for a 70pc target for renewable electricity by 2030 and we believe that the bioenergy sector will play a crucial role in delivering on this ambitious target.

“With the output from our domestic forests expected to double over the next 15 years, combined heat and power (CHP) utilising locally sourced biomass offers the potential to produce renewable electricity for large energy users and supports the sustainable growth of the forestry sector, which in turn will ensure continued economic vibrancy and employment across rural Ireland.”

Dr David Connolly, CEO of the Irish Wind Energy Association said that if the plan illustrated in the report is implemented, an estimated €250m will be generated in the local rural communities that are involved.

The report, 70 by 30 – a 70pc Renewable Electricity Vision for Ireland in 2030, from leading energy and utilities experts Baringa says it is technically possible and cost neutral to the consumer for Ireland to use renewable energy to supply 70pc of our electricity by 2030, which it says will go a long way towards reaching the EU target.

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Approximately 30pc if Irish electricity comes from renewables and while Ireland will fall short of its overall 2020 target it is expected to still reach its 40pc electricity target.

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