Decisions regarding the sourcing biomass would be operational matters for the power plant operators, Bord na Móna or ESB. However, I have been advised that Bord na Móna’s BioEnergy division sources sustainable biomass used at the Edenderry power station and that up to 80% of the biomass used in the plant is from domestic sources. However, in the event that all three of the electricity generating plants referred to co-fire peat with biomass, it is unlikely that there will be sufficient amounts of indigenous biomass to meet the demand. 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. Therefore international sources of biomass will be required.
Use of appropriate sustainability criteria will help to ensure that use of biomass does not have a detrimental effect on the world’s forests. EU-wide sustainability criteria have been introduced in the revised Renewable Energy Directive, which includes provisions to ensure that energy biomass will be required to emit significantly less carbon than the fossil fuel equivalent. This Directive excludes certain types of biomass from contributing to a member state’s renewable energy performance such as biomass from areas of high biodiversity, areas designated for nature protection purposes and areas designated for protection of rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems or species.
Furthermore, I am advised Bord na Mona sources sustainable biomass used at the Edenderry station, based on a set of sustainability principles, aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.