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Bord na Móna drop US pellet plant plans

Bord na Móna, the Irish semi-state peat resource and power utility company has disclosed that following technical and commercial assessments, it will not proceed further with plans to "directly develop" a US-based biomass pellet plant. Instead has opted to proceed with a "broadly based" biomass supply chain with imports supplementing Irish supply in the short to medium term.

Stockpiling woodchips at Bord na Móna’s Edenderry power station.

In a statement, the company points out that its business supports national energy policy and thousands of jobs across the Midlands region. Not least with its own 128 MWe power station at Edenderry that co-fires peat and biomass.

Bord na Móna also supplies the two ESB power stations in the Midlands, Lough Ree and West Offaly Power, which currently use peat as a fuel and, according to Bord na Móna, it is intended that both power stations will transition in 2020 to co-fuelling with both peat and biomass.

The company has conducted an assessment of its biomass supply chain and has confirmed its preference for Irish supplies. Following technical and commercial assessments, conducted as part of its EUR 1.2 billion investment plan programme announced in July 2017, the company has decided not to “directly develop” a US-based biomass pellet plant.

Transitioning to the hybrid peat-biomass model is critically important to the continuing ability of Bord na Móna to remain a substantial employer supporting thousands of jobs in the Midlands. The transition to peat-biomass co-fuelling is also important from a national policy perspective as it underpins national energy security and helps Ireland to meet its binding renewable energy target for 2020, said Michael Barry, Managing Director, Bord na Móna in a statement.

Instead, it has opted to proceed with a “broadly based” biomass supply chain with imports supplementing Irish supply in the short to medium term. The company says that “it is now confident” it has identified supplies of sustainable biomass capable of meeting demand from the three Midlands power stations.

We are already successfully co-fuelling our own Edenderry power station with peat and biomass which has cut annual carbon emissions by 40 percent. Biomass demand from 2020 onwards is projected at 1.5 million tonnes. The considerable increase in volume will require imports to close the supply gap in the short to medium term. Maintaining a stable biomass supply is vital to supporting jobs in the peat business and across the Midlands economy, said Barry.

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