IFA Renewables Chairman, James Murphy has welcomed Minister Naughten’s announcement on the National Support Scheme for Renewable Heat but has said that the priority for Government must be to get the scheme fully operational as soon as possible.
James Murphy said, “The sector has been waiting a long time for this announcement and it is very welcome to now have greater detail on the types of supports and the tariffs that will be available to commercial heat users under the scheme. However, if we are to make a meaningful contribution to meeting the 2020 renewable heat targets, the scheme must be operational in the first quarter of 2018.”
The demand for heat energy is the largest source of energy use in Ireland, accounting for 45% of all primary energy usage and 33% of CO2 emissions. The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) aims to increase the energy generated from renewable sources in the heat sector by approximately 3%, this is equivalent to 200,000 tonnes of oil equivalent.
James Murphy said the magnitude of the challenge should not be under-estimated and he expressed concern that the proposed tariffs may not sufficiently attractive to encourage the scale of adoption to renewable heating technologies that is required. He said it would be important that the tariffs in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme compliment the SSRH tariffs in increase adoption particularly of anaerobic digestion systems.
“A properly funding SSRH with an annual budget of €100 million is an imperative if we are to increase the energy generated from renewable sources and meet the challenge. Increased uptake of renewable energy offers enormous economic and environmental potential for Ireland and has been shown to positively impact regional competitiveness, innovation and diversification of economic activity in rural areas. It can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help Ireland move to a low carbon economy and improve waste management,” James Murphy said.
He said that a critical characteristic of the bioenergy sector is that the market consists of ’local loops’ of demand and supply in defined geographic areas. These ‘local loops’ typically have a high level of communities enterprises, and thereby retain a high percentage of profits in the local and regional economies.