The Western Development Commission has launched the RASLRES project, which seeks to promote the production of biomass in the West of Ireland.
RASLRES (Regional Approaches to Stimulation Local Renewable Energy Solutions) is a Eur3 million multi-national European bio-energy project funded by the Northern Periphery Programme which seeks to build awareness of opportunities for rural communities to produce and supply locally produced biomass (wood, seaweed and energy crops) to towns and cities.
The RASLRES project will address current barriers to market growth including low levels of market confidence, insufficient market information and limited technical and business skills, and actively tackle the issues at regional and local level.
WDC research has shown that the West of Ireland could develop an indigenous, sustainable, renewable energy resource delivering 11% of the region’s heat needs by 2020. Such growth will require over 470,000 tonnes of wood fuel per year and would also mean an additional Eur15 million per annum to the economy and create up to 900 additional jobs in rural areas. It has the potential to provide Eur1.7 million each year to the West’s farming sector.
The jobs created would be spread across the entire supply chain and result in additional activity to the benefit of private forest owners, forest contractors, haulage companies, plumbers, engineers, electrical companies etc.
While some of the other countries involved in the RASLRES programme are pursuing various renewable energy areas, the WDC is focusing on the wood energy sector.
“This exciting project aims to provide business development support to rural biomass communities and will aid development of biomass supply chains through direct business and community engagement,” says Minister for Defence Tony Killeen TD, who launched the project: “The project has the potential to bring nearly Eur1 million funding to Ireland’s Western Region over its three year lifetime and support over 50 companies.”
RASLRES is an international partnership which includes:
* Western Development Commission – Ireland,
* Action Renewables – Northern Ireland, UK,
* Environmental Research Institute, North Highland College – Scotland,
* Municipality of Norsjo – Sweden,
* Oceanrainforest Ltd – Faroe Islands,
* VTT, Technical Research Centre – Finland.