Dáil Éireann - Volume 661 - 24 September, 2008

Written Answers. - Alternative Energy Projects.

Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of farmers using their land for the production of alternative energy sources with details of the type of production involved and a breakdown for different counties. [29925/08]

  Deputy Brendan Smith: Overall responsibility for energy policy in Ireland, including renewable energy rests with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Alternative energy sources encompass a wide range of materials and processes including wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and bioenergy. My Department is implementing the agri-related actions in the National Bioenergy Action Plan to support the production of Bioenergy at farm level. Agriculture and forestry have the potential to produce a wide range of feedstocks for use in the bioenergy market including purpose grown energy crops, wood energy and utilising farm and food wastes for energy.

Many farmers have diversified into energy crop cultivation following the introduction of new incentives by my Department in 2007 to stimulate production. The measures include a National Energy Crop Premium of €80 per hectare and a Bioenergy Scheme providing establishment [759] grants of €1,450 per hectare to grow willow and miscanthus. An additional premium of €45 per hectare is also available under the EU Energy Crops Scheme.

There is also potential to supply energy through the use of grass or farm wastes as feedstock. In 2007, my Department awarded grants of €4m to ten anaerobic digestion projects under the ‘Scheme of Investment Aid for Demonstration On Farm Waste Processing Facilities’. The table below details the number of farmers who were awarded grants for anaerobic digestion facilities in 2007 and who have applied for energy crops grants in 2008:

No. of applicants

Type of production

County

31

Biomass/energy crops

Carlow

7

Biomass/energy crops

Cavan

1

Biomass/energy crops

Clare

763

Biomass/energy crops Anaerobic Digestion Facilities

Cork

101

Biomass/energy crops Anaerobic Digestion Facilities

Donegal

4

Biomass/energy crops

Dublin

10

Biomass/energy crops

Galway

6

Biomass/energy crops

Kerry

361

Biomass/energy crops Anaerobic Digestion Facilities

Kilkenny

321

Biomass/energy crops Anaerobic Digestion Facilities

Kildare

18

Biomass/energy crops

Laois

232

Biomass/energy crops Anaerobic Digestion Facilities

Limerick

7

Biomass/energy crops

Louth

3

Biomass/energy crops

Mayo

17

Biomass/energy crops

Meath

4

Biomass/energy crops

Monaghan

6

Biomass/energy crops

Offaly

2

Biomass/energy crops

Roscommon

1

Biomass/energy crops

Sligo

371

Biomass/energy crops Anaerobic Digestion Facilities

Tipperary

191

Biomass/energy crops Anaerobic Digestion Facilities

Waterford

7

Biomass/energy crops

Westmeath

104

Biomass/energy crops

Wexford

27

Biomass/energy crops

Wicklow

In addition, forestry has significant capacity to contribute to the production of alternative energy. Currently, Ireland’s forest resource amounts to approximately 710,000 hectares. Farmers privately own approximately 320,000 hectares of this land and they are already supplying wood biomass to the energy sector. The above table does not include details of farmers engaged in wood energy, as the information is not readily available.

Question No. 1558 answered with Question No. 1539.