Bioenergy area 'could create 3,000 Irish jobs'
Incentives to encourage firms to switch to renewable heat include woodchip and wood pellets could help create up to 3,000 jobs, the BioEnergy Association claims.
A renewable heat incentive (RHI), which has been promised for more than a year and is still under discussion at the Department of Energy, would benefit both farmers and those installing the heating systems, as well as helping to reduce costs and emissions.
The association's annual conference was told the introduction of an incentive for business would drive the bioenergy sector to double in size and create 3,000 new jobs.
It wants an incentive of €0.076 per kWh, falling to €0.002 per kWh above 1MW.
"The bioenergy sector sits at the intersection of energy, agriculture and climate change policies," incoming president Michael Doran said.
"The RHI will provide a tangible demand driver to strengthen supply chains for equipment, fuel sources and skills, driving jobs growth and establishing a strong market for biofuels from forestry and grown by Irish farmers," Mr Doran said.
"We need to accelerate the switch to renewable sources of power right across our economy, in electricity, in transport and in heating.
"This is our obligation under international treaties to prevent potentially catastrophic climate change, and in our own self-interest as a society and an island economy that is dependent on imported, polluting fossil fuels for 78pc of our energy needs."
He added a spend of around €120m could be avoided importing fossil fuels if an incentive was introduced.