Ignorance about €85m CHP plans
The proposed development of an €85m combined heat and power plant (CHP) in Shannon, Co Clare, has shown the breath-taking dearth of knowledge about bioenergy among the general public.
Despite the fact that CHP plants typically use renewable fuels such as woodchip, wood pellets, wood shavings and energy crops such as miscanthus and willow, these plants are often perceived as 'incinerators' burning hazardous materials.
Among the issues raised by concerned local residents in Co Clare, were claims that harmful vapours from the plant could leak into the cockpits of planes and affect pilots flying overhead at Shannon airport, Clare County manager Tom Coughlan revealed.
Speaking at the Teagasc National Bioenergy Conference in Athlone on Wednesday, Mr Coughlan said residents had also asked if the plant would be burning industrial waste and could damage local heritage.
However the plant, proposed by Carbon Sole Industries, is designed to burn up to 316,000t of woodchip per year to generate electricity.
Carbon Sole is applying for planning permission to build its CHP plant at Stonehall, north of the Shannon Free Zone.
Meanwhile, Joe O'Carroll from Imperative Energy, another bioenergy company, said he sympathised with Carbon Sole and the Clare County Council because similar issues had arisen over his company's developments.
"We are in the planning process for CHP projects in Claremorris and Arklow," he said. "Along the way, we've been asked if our plants will be burning dead animals."