The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) has recently held a "photo launch" with Minister of State, Senator Pippa Hackett for its Just Transition Fund (JTF) Project ‘The Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme,’ a program that seeks to develop innovative projects which will lead to economic, environmental, and social sustainability for the Midlands region in Ireland as it transitions away from the use of peat.
The National Just Transition Fund (JTF) is a key pillar of the Government’s plan for the Midlands region and was made available in 2020 to support communities transitioning to a low carbon economy. The focus is on retraining workers and generating sustainable employment in green enterprises across the region.
The objective of the Fund is to facilitate innovative projects that contribute to the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of the Wider Midlands region (including East Galway, Kildare, Laois, Longford, North Tipperary, Offaly, Roscommon, and Westmeath) and have significant employment and enterprise potential.
Support transition from peat to biomass
Administered by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), granted projects will seek to develop innovative projects which will lead to economic, environmental, and social sustainability for the Midlands region as it shifts away from the model of peat harvesting and usage to a low carbon society with alternative employment opportunities within the catchment areas.
We are delighted to complete our photo launch of the IrBEA Just Transition funded Project with Minister Hackett. The Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme has been designed to provide training, mentoring, technical support, and advice to those interested in exploring the development of new bioenergy-based businesses in the Midlands. The project will support the establishment of bioenergy businesses and link producers, processing businesses, energy users, and investors, said Seán Finan, CEO, IrBEA.
The Fund supports projects that take a whole-of-Midlands strategic approach and complement other sources of public funding.
The bioenergy sector encompasses many different possibilities for those looking to develop their own business, reskill and find new employment opportunities. Bioenergy can be anything from the development of wood fuels such as woodchips, firewood or pellets, the growth of dedicated energy crops and biogas, biofuels, or biochar production. We will be kicking off the project activities in the coming months with a formal launch event and hosting a series of information and awareness events throughout the Midlands region, said Stephen McCormack, Project Executive with IrBEA.
The project will assess the potential feedstocks and energy demand within the various counties of the JTF catchment as well as assess the skills and training needs of interested parties.
The project will design and rollout a knowledge transfer program through the provision of training, mentoring, technical guidance, and advice for those looking to develop fully-fledged bioenergy-related businesses.
Bioenergy is responsible for doing the heavy lifting in terms of all the various renewable energy technologies worldwide. By supporting those looking to transition into this sector, local employment opportunities can be provided. This will help keep the economic activity generated within the locality and more importantly, reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels and improve energy security. We look forward to engaging with former peat and power industry workers, farmers, foresters, SMEs, energy users and individuals within the region as they transition towards a sustainable low carbon energy future, ended Seán Finan.
The Midlands Bioenergy Development Programme (MBDP) will provide start-up enterprises in the Midlands region with non-financial support, knowledge, guidance, and mentoring to establish successful bioenergy businesses. These businesses will help the Just Transition in the Midlands by providing quality green employment opportunities for a transitioning workforce.
The businesses will process indigenous feedstock (grass, wood, energy crops) to produce bioenergy (such as firewood, wood pellets, biogas, biochar, bio-oils) which will offset existing fossil fuel usage. The feedstock which will be grown and sourced in the Midlands will stimulate the local rural economy and provide opportunities for primary producers also. This project will deliver a bioenergy knowledge transfer program in the region on the various bioenergy sector opportunities in biomass production, biogas production, wood fuel- and energy crop processing and production, and biochar production and usage. This project will link producers, processing businesses, energy users, and investors.
The SMEs supported by the project through a mentoring program will promote economic growth and rural development in the Midlands region. Mentoring and technical advice will be provided by the project team to develop 12 start-up enterprises in the bioenergy sector in the Midlands. This will be the main deliverable of the project.