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Bio-energy sector in Ireland Free essay! Download now

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Bio-energy sector in Ireland

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Review of Bio-energy crop production in Ireland


Bio-energy sector in Ireland

Research into the potential of growing energy crops in Ireland has been researched at the crops research centre in Oak Park since the 1970s. There has been growing interest among farmers in this area of growing energy crops, and among consumers in using greener alternatives to fossil fuelsm Trial work on energy crops such as willow, miscanthus, switch grass, reed canary grass and hemp are grown at the Oak Park research centre.

Production in Ireland
The main feedstocks for biomass energy production in Ireland is from crops of Willow and Miscanthus. The area of these crops is gradually increasing as fossil fuel supplies become more expensive and less available. The main driver of these crops is due to the fact that they are carbon neutral and do not affect global warming. According to Caslin, communication (2010), there are approximately 2500ha of miscanthus and 500ha of willow established in Ireland and this is set to increase in the near future.

Table 2.1: Production of Miscanthus in Ireland
Establishment costs/ha
50% Establishment grant/ha
Minimum duration of plantation
16 years
Harvest cycles
Typical yield/ha (year 2)
Yields/ha years 3-16

Figure 2.1: Crop of miscanthus
2.1. Markets
Once a crop of miscanthus is harvested it can have a number of end uses which are all related to the energy sector. For instance the raw material can be used for the following:
In pellet form as a fuel for domestic and industrial boilers.
In baled form for combined and heat power units.
Bedding under cattle etc.
Garden mulch.
The Manufacture of chipboard, plywood and MDF boards.

Table 2.2: Production of Willow in Ireland
Establishment costs/ha
50% Establishment grant/ha
Minimum duration of plantation
16 years
Harvest cycles
Typical yield/ha (year 4)
Following harvest yields every second year after first crop

Figure 2.2: Crop of willow
2.2. Markets
There is a huge market for willow and wood chips, willow chip is becoming very popular, and has a rapidly expanding market taht can be easily handled by modern boilers. These pellets provide the opportunity for both industrial heat and CHP applications. They are also suitable for the domestic market for central heating and freestanding stoves. At the bigger end of the scale these pellets can be used in power stations.
(There was previously an additional EU premium of 125/ha paid by the department of Agriculture for establishing both of these crops but this has now been cut)

Willow is becomming an increasingly important source of renewable energy compared to miscanthus due to the fact that it can be used more efficiently during processing. Willow is a more versatile crop compared to miscanthus which has a chlorine content of approximately 0.22% which has been proven to be corosive on boilers during combustion. For this reason willow is deemed more economic viable option because it does not pose any damaging impacts on processing equipment.

2.3. Peat stations
The Bioenergy ...

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