The three peat-fired electricity generating stations in Ireland, one owned by Bord na Móna and two by ESB, were awarded support for biomass combustion under the REFIT3 Scheme for up to 30% of the installed capacity up to 2030. Bord na Móna commenced co-firing at its Edenderry Plant with biomass in 2008, and it is expected that ESB will commence co-firing at its 2 peat fired plants with biomass in 2020. ESB is in the process of seeking planning permission for the phased transition of its stations to biomass by the end of 2027. Bord na Móna currently has planning permission to co-fire with up to 30% biomass.
In relation to the supply of biomass, Bord na Móna’s BioEnergy division sources sustainable biomass that is used at the Edenderry power station and I am advised that up to 80% of the biomass used in the Edenderry power station is from domestic sources. However, in the event that all three peat-fired plants have planning permission to co-fire with biomass, it is unlikely that the amount of biomass required will be supplied from indigenous sources. It is likely that the supply deficit would be met by imports.
In addition to the three power stations, there is demand for biomass for use in industry and in residential heating, and the Government’s Support Scheme for Renewable Heat will also create a demand for biomass supplies in the coming years.
As pointed out by Coford in its recent reports on Wood Supply and Demand to 2025, and Mobilising Ireland’s Forest Resource, the key challenge is to ensure a balanced approach to the development of wood resource to best meet demand. Mobilising the private supply of indigenous resources is a key factor. As the supply of indigenous biomass increases, supported by the forestry programme and other measures, imported biomass will be displaced.