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Minister Of State Wallace Opens National Bioenergy Conference

Ms. Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, today officially opened the National Bioenergy conference in Tullamore, County Offaly. Organised by Teagasc and the Irish Bioenergy Association, the conference theme is 'Bioenergy-Making it a sustainable reality'.

Speaking at the conference, Minister Wallace welcomed the emphasis of the conference of making bioenergy a "sustainable reality" with a particular focus on developing the supply chain from producer to end user. "Ultimately" the Minister said "the industry can only develop in Ireland if it is profitable for the raw material supplier, processors and investors alike".

The Minister referred to a package of Energy - Climate change measures being prepared by the EU Commission to enhance renewable energy and mitigate the harmful effects of climate change. As part of this package Ireland is required by 2020 to:

  • Obtain 16% of our energy from renewable sources
  • Ensure that biofuels make up 10% of transport fuel and
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%.

"Many different sources of renewable energy will be required to help achieve these targets" the Minister said and "bioenergy has an important role to play in meeting the challenges that lie ahead. It is a clean, renewable source of energy and with our abundant resources in Ireland we have great potential to produce bioenergy".

The Minister addressed the role of agriculture as an important source of bioenergy feedstocks and went on to highlight the opportunities to expand markets for agricultural products by growing energy crops and by utilising wood biomass and animal by-products to produce renewable energy.

The Minister outlined the grant aid, which her Department is making available to support the cultivation of energy crops and announced that she was extending the closing date for submission of applications under the Bioenergy Scheme to the end of March to facilitate further applications for establishment grants to grow miscanthus and willow. She reminded farmers that establishment grants are available for up to 50% of establishment costs, subject to a maximum grant of €1,450 per hectare. She added, "I have provided sufficient funding in 2008 to support the planting of up to 1,600 hectares of miscanthus and willow and I would urge interested farmers to submit an application for pre-planting approval as soon as possible and not later than the closing date of Monday, 31 March 2008".

12 February, 2008

Note to Editors

The Application Form for Pre-Planting Approval and supporting documentation are available on the Department's website at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie and from

Biofuels Policy Unit,
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food,
Kea-Lew Business Park,
Mountrath Road,
Portlaoise,
Co. Laois.

Tel: 057- 8692231
E-mail: bioenergy@agriculture.gov.ie

Date Released: 12 February 2008