Renewable crops could save country from EU fine
Ireland must support the growing of bio-energy crops such as miscanthus and willow to avoid annual EU fines of up to €95m.
Paddy O'Toole of Quinns of Baltinglass warned that the State was likely to miss challenging EU renewable energy targets and faced massive penalties from Brussels as a consequence.
He said growing crops such as miscanthus could, however, offset EU fines while delivering a margin to farmers of €500/ha, which is comparable to the tillage sector.
Mr O'Toole called on the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, to immediately introduce and implement an incentive scheme which encourages the changeover from gas oil to renewable energy fuels such as miscanthus.
Based on expert analysis Ireland faces annual fines of over €95m if the State fails to deliver 16pc of its heat, transport and electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2020.
At a recent Teagasc bio-energy conference it was predicted by SEAI that Ireland would miss this 16pc cut-off, with a resultant penalty of between €65m to €130m imposed by the EU for every 1pc the State is below the target.
The overall 16pc target is comprised of three individual targets for electricity, transport and heat.
The renewable threshold for heat is 12pc, and Barry Caslin of Teagasc, described this as the "hardest nut to crack".