From left to right: Mr. Tom Shanahan, Offaly Co Co; Ms Sarah Morgan, Midlands Regional Business Plan; Kieran Mulvey, commissioner for a just transition; Minister for Regional Planning and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett; Mr. Paddy Phelan, President, IrBEA; Mr. Pádraic Ó hUiginn, Project Manager, Midlands Bioenergy Development Plan, IrBEA; Mr. Seán Finan, CEO, IrBEA; Mr. Pat Gallagher, CEO, Westmeath Co Co; Noel Gavigan, Technical Director, IrBEA; and Dr Isabella Donnelly, County Westmeath Regional Coordinator and Mentor, SEAI Sustainable Energy Communities. Photo credit: Eoin O’Driscoll.

The official launch of the new Midlands Bioenergy Development Plan (MBDP) took place recently at Tuar Ard in Moate.

The MBDP focuses on encouraging and mentoring new start-ups in the bioenergy sector as part of the just transition in the Midlands region. Bioenergy is an inherently cross-cutting sector, involving issues such as energy costs and security, fossil fuel substitution, local enterprise, climate action, environment, circular economy and bioeconomy, agriculture, electricity, heat and transport.

Project Director Pádraic Ó hUiginn commented that “the ‘joint’ approach it brings to a number of major environmental and economic challenges is very exciting. Bioenergy covers a number of types of technologies.

“Having said that, very practically, it can provide sustainable and renewable substitutes for fossil fuels in electricity, heat and transportation. It is storable and shippable. It must meet strict sustainability criteria as part of the recast of the Renewable Energy Directive They are proven technologies, which are already available and deployed in other Member States of the European Union and in Ireland.

Mr Ó hUiginn continued: “For Midlands communities covered by the National Just Transition Fund, bioenergy offers an opportunity to renew and adapt technical and business skills, in energy supply and user needs. of energy.

“Getting to the heart of what just transition is, it also offers a sustainable path to renewing and strengthening local economies as a platform for vibrant communities, which continue to be attractive places to work, live , grow and be proud to call home.

Minister for Spatial Planning and Biodiversity Pippa Hackett chaired the launch and delivered the keynote address on behalf of the government. Commissioner for Just Transition, Mr. Kieran Mulvey, spoke about what Just Transition seeks to bring to the region. More localized events will take place around the Midlands in the autumn so that the project can engage directly with potential bioenergy start-ups who could benefit from the project’s training and mentorship.

The in-person launch event signaled that localized events will take place in the Midlands in the autumn so that the project can engage directly with potential bioenergy start-up companies who could benefit from knowledge transfer, training and project mentoring.

Attendees of the event also learned that a Bioenergy Feedstock Resource Analysis and Energy Demand Analysis for the Midlands region is currently underway as part of the project. This work will provide an evidence base to advise and mentor potential start-up bioenergy companies.

The project team plans later this year to invite potential bioenergy start-ups to apply to participate in a knowledge transfer program providing information, support, training and mentoring for the creation and operation of a bioenergy company.

Employment and business support New bioenergy start-ups will be encouraged and mentored, employing people directly and indirectly by supporting entrepreneurs and creating supply chains.

The Midlands Bioenergy Development Project is coordinated by the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) and co-funded by the National Just Transition Fund for the Midlands region.