Support farmers and double ethanol in petrol now to meet Ireland's climate goals - industry

The report was commissioned by ClonBio Group subsidiary Ethanol Europe, an Irish-based company that operates Europe's biggest grain-based ethanol plant in Hungary. Stock photo: Reuters
The report was commissioned by ClonBio Group subsidiary Ethanol Europe, an Irish-based company that operates Europe's biggest grain-based ethanol plant in Hungary. Stock photo: Reuters

Shawn Pogatchnik

Ireland should double the volume of ethanol in its petrol as a quick way to make climate goals achievable, according to a report by economist Jim Power.

Yesterday's report was commissioned by ClonBio Group subsidiary Ethanol Europe, an Irish-based company that operates Europe's biggest grain-based ethanol plant in Hungary.

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Mr Power argues that Ireland should adopt E10, the petrol mix used widely in the United States and in several other EU states. Ireland since 2005 has used petrol containing 5pc ethanol, whereas E10 has 10pc.

Critics blame ethanol production for driving up food prices and encouraging global trade in used Asian cooking oil, a current primary source for Ireland's ethanol.

Mr Power agrees that Ireland should move away from sourcing ethanol from cooking oil of unknown provenance, and start producing its own. He argues that Ireland has seen its own farm land used for cereals production decline by 19pc in the past decade, and ethanol production, "if ambitiously supported, would provide an alternative activity and source of income for Irish farmers".

Mr Power says Ireland currently is on course to miss key EU climate targets in 2020 and face multi-million-euro fines as the volume of CO2 produced by petrol-burning vehicles keeps rising.

While Ireland commits "considerable rhetoric" to climate action, he says "its progress in meeting its international obligations is pathetic".

The Government's Climate Action Plan's focus on transitioning to electric cars is laudable, he says, but hopelessly unrealistic as even a medium-term way to reverse carbon emissions on Irish roads.

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"Trends indicate that it will be 2050 or thereabouts before e-mobility and conventional vehicles reach parity, by which time transport demand will have more than doubled," he says.

Irish Independent


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