Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Questions (250)

Thomas Pringle


250. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to extend the REFIT PSO for biomass burning until 2023 alongside a new proposal for a PSO for bog rehabilitation; the way in which the proposed PSO will not duplicate bog rehabilitation that is required under the EPA licence at Edenderry; his views on whether such a PSO to be another form of carbon taxation levied on electricity customers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47933/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The support scheme for use of biomass in electricity generation, REFIT3, runs until 2030. Both of the ESB-owned Midlands electricity generation stations, West Offaly Power and Lough Ree Power, and the Bord na Móna-owned plant at Edenderry were allocated support for fuelling the plants with up to 30% biomass. Bord na Móna currently co-fires its plant with 30% biomass. Due to the failure to obtain planning permission for West Offaly to co-fire with biomass beyond the end of 2020, and the decision by ESB to withdraw its application for planning for Lough Ree, the allocations under the support scheme for these plants are unlikely to be taken up. It is now proposed to put in place a new PSO for the enhanced rehabilitation of the Bord na Móna bogs over and above what Bord na Móna is obliged to do under its EPA licences. The support will be ring-fenced and used specifically for bog rehabilitation. It is expected that the proposed enhanced restoration and rehabilitation scheme will have benefits accruing from biodiversity provision, water quality, and increased carbon storage and sequestration.

The proposed scheme is not a tax on carbon. It is a scheme to support biodiversity and to ensure the bogs revert to their natural state as the most efficient carbon stores.