Tuesday, 16 May 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
61. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Public Enterprise if consideration has been given to replacing the peat-fired power station in Ferbane, County Offaly, with a cleaner and more sustainably fuelled wood-fired power station, in view of the potential for growing the fuel locally as copiced short rotation forestry which could stimulate the rural economy and absorb resulting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. [10387/00]
Mr. Jacob: Previous studies have shown that the economics of using rapid rotation forestry for electricity generation are extremely poor, rendering the cost of such electricity very high. The Renewable Energy Strategy Group is to consider afresh the question of all other forms of renewable energy after it has completed its work on wind energy.
Mr. Gormley: This is the whole point. The original factory, as one commentator said, was seen as a COf8>2 factory. Anything that can impact positively on that is surely a good thing in terms of our COf8>2 abatement strategy.
Mr. Jacob: The Minister for the Environment and Local Government, Deputy Dempsey, will soon publish his paper on the abatement strategy. That is expected to complement the Green Paper published some time ago, the objectives of which are being met. The aim of those documents will be to work towards meeting our targets and what we signed up to at Kyoto.
Mr. Yates: In relation to Ferbane station, will the Minister of State confirm it is not now Government policy to go ahead with the £16 million refurbishment programme agreed by the last Government and that it is Government policy to  close down every one of the five electricity generating stations in the country?
Mr. Stagg: On the issue of absorbing the resulting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, will the Minister of State confirm that trees do that excellent work while they are alive? When they are cut down and burned or allowed to rot, the carbon dioxide is readmitted into the atmosphere so that there is no net gain in terms of carbon dioxide in using timber.
Mr. Jacob: My understanding of the situation is the same as that outlined by Deputy Stagg. Other countries which have studied this issue have arrived at the same conclusions. The matter referred to by Deputy Yates is an extension of the question. If the Deputy wishes to table an appropriate question we would be delighted to answer it.
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