Thursday, 11 July 2019

Questions (697)

Danny Healy-Rae


697. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to provide farmers with supports for anaerobic digestion and on-farm renewables; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30679/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Indigenous renewable energy plays a vital role in our domestic fuel mix and will become even more important in the context of reducing our reliance on imported fuels and in meeting our challenging renewable energy targets for 2020 and 2030 and decarbonising our energy systems by 2050. 

My Department is committed to working closely with the Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, which is the lead Department in this area, to ensure that the supply of domestic fuels available in the forest and agriculture sectors are mobilised to support renewable energy generation from a range of bioenergy technologies including Anaerobic Digestion.  My Department is aware of the need to encourage the utilisation of farm manure as an alternative source of energy and fully recognises the wider environmental benefits of using agricultural residues in the production of biogas / biomethane and, in particular, the potential for a significant role in the heat and transport sectors. However, the cost efficiency of this technology remains challenging, due to the low energy content and seasonality of farm manure.

The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) aims to bridge this economic gap and will support farms and businesses to adopt renewable heating systems, including biogas heating systems.  The SSRH has been developed to financially support the adoption of renewable heating systems by agricultural, commercial, industrial, district heating operators and other non-domestic heat users not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System. Under Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan sets out an allocation of €300 million for the rollout of the SSRH for the period up to 2027.

My colleague Richard Bruton, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment recently opened the second phase of the SSRH, an operational support for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems for applications. Details of this scheme including the tariffs that apply are available on the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland's website at the following link:

In addition, my Department's Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes (TAMS) supports capital investment in a number of target areas which will promote, among other things, sustainability (e.g. low emissions slurry spreading equipment, farm nutrient storage, and renewable energy and energy efficiency).  I recently made €10 million available for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, following a comprehensive review of TAMS designed to increase its focus on sustainability.  Eligible investments include extension of support for Solar PV Installation to all sectors and support for LED Lighting as the only form of lighting to be grant aided.  In addition, other energy efficiency measures such as biomass boilers and water heating continue to be eligible investment items under TAMS.