Ireland has a commitment under The National Action Renewable Plan to achieve 12% of heat use from renewable sources. There is a need for policy makers to create incentives if these targets are to be achieved. The use of biomass (wood) in local space heaters will greatly assist in reaching this target.
The area of air emissions from the combustion solid fuel and biomass need also to be addressed. It has been noted that there are concern within the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (DCCAE) that promotion of biomass for heating will add to Ireland’s emission levels of particulate matter (PM), organic gaseous compounds (OGCs), carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
What is the solution?
Wood with quality assurance burnt in EcoDesign approved, technologically advanced appliances, will address concerns of harmful emissions. These appliances are also significantly more efficient than traditional space heaters and boilers, reducing the annual cost of heating the home. The beneficial by-product of this increased efficiency is a reduction in the quantity of fuel need to create equivalent heat again in turn lowering emissions. Therefore, using biomass for local space heating will support the growth of indigenous local industry, supporting the rural economy and provide sustainable employment for the future.
Wood, both in its raw and processed form, can be considered a sustainable fuel. The combustion of wood releases carbon dioxide; this emission is the carbon which the tree has collected and stored over its lifetime. A landscape level approach is needed to assess sustainability. As a forest is felled and partly or wholly used for combustion, the carbon dioxide released from this combustion is recaptured by existing and establishing forests. In turn, the felled forest itself must be re-established, fulfilling its role in recapturing carbon dioxide from other forest energy emissions.
It is important that wood fuel is only obtained from sustainable sources, to ensure that carbon is recapture at a landscape level and the circle of emissions and capture remains unbroken. The overall contribution of carbon dioxide to atmospheric is minimal. Although there is quality assured wood fuel readily available on the market, the fuel is being burnt incorrectly, creating unacceptable emissions.
Ecodesign requirements and timetable for local space heaters
The EcoDesign Directive (EU) 2015/1188 of 28 April 2015 EU) 2015/1185 of 24 April 2015 : requirements for solid fuel local space heaters (to be implemented from January 2018) Annex 11 and Annex 111 from January 2022. EcoDesign requirements for energy efficiency and for emissions of (PM), (OGCs), (CO), (NOx) from local space heaters. (Biomass boilers are covered under a different Annex of the Directive)
“The time frame for introducing the EcoDesign requirements should be sufficient for the manufacturers to redesign their products subject to this Regulation, taking into account any cost impact for manufacturers, in particular SMEs,” This part of the directive allows time 2018-2022 for countries to implement the directive.
There is pressure in Ireland to extend this date.
This is misplaced apprehension as other EU member states have successfully brought forward implementation. In France, certified appliances have a reduced VAT rate of 5%, along with tax credits over 5 years plus interest free loans for the works. This is a strong commitment because heating from biomass is not well known by French public. Italy’s renewable heat incentive, Conto Termico 2016 will cover up to 40 % or 65 % of expenditure on approved technology.
The opportunity is there for Ireland to become a supplier of EcoDesign local space heaters ahead of other competing member states. It is important we are not caught lagging in this fast moving industry allowing this opportunity to pass by exporting jobs to other progressive member states. There is no account taken for increased employment and positive carbon benefits in the biomass sector or in the manufacture of appliances for efficient biomass combustion.
The issue is that an unwary public are buying appliances with a life expectancy of 15 years which will be obsolete when the directive is implemented in 6 years. The advanced appliances cost considerably more so unless there is some incentive the general public will not choose this option. Examples of incentives could be:
- Reduction of VAT on Ecodesign compliant appliances
- Exemption to the 10% Rule on Ecodesign compliant appliances within the BER calculations
- A financial scrappage scheme to encourage replacement of inefficient, smoky appliances
Other incentives/ disincentives can be discussed to reduce the number of non-compliant appliances that will be purchased over the next 6 years. For example, in Canada all stoves must now be registered with the government with the sale of non-compliant heaters banned from the market.
We must take steps to address this issue; to educate policy makers and stakeholders, both to promote biomass as a viable sustainable alternative source of home heat and to protect the environment.
IrBEA (The Irish Bioenergy Association) is currently commissioning a Biomass Combustion Emissions Study. It is proposed that a workshop will be held for stakeholders in August with a final report due for publication in September 2016.
Local space heaters Commission Regulation (EU) 2015/1188 of 28 April 2015 implementing Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to ecodesign requirements for local space heaters Commission Regulation (EU) 2015/1185 of 24 April 2015 implementing Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to ecodesign requirements for solid fuel local space heaters Impact Assessment [SWD(2015) 90] Executive Summary of the Impact Assessment Summary [SWD(2015) 91]