Woodchips from Brazil have been shipped more than 7,000km to be burned at the Bord na Móna power plant in Edenderry, the Irish Farmers Journal has reported.
The paper says that a Japanese registered woodchip carrier arrived in Foynes Port, Co Limerick with the load after a two-week voyage from Brazil.
A “fleet of trucks” then brought the woodchips to the Bord na Móna plant in Edenderry.
The plant was originally peat-burning, but in 2021 Bord na Móna suspended all peat harvesting on its bogs ahead of schedule, causing “significant shock” to the hundreds of people who lost their jobs unexpectedly.
It’s reported that that the Edenderry plant will burn 24,000 tons of imported woodchips this year, and that will rise to over 175,000 tons in 2024.
Because of how carbon emissions are calculated, the emissions for the woodchips are actually counted in Brazil, the harvest site. Critics of the system have said that it gives a unrealistic and distorted accounting advantage to richer countries.
Directives from the EU on Climate targets meant the use of peat at the station was due to cease, but the move to suddenly stop harvesting peat caused much upset locally.
It also led to a crisis in the horticultural sector, because peat is used as a growing medium, and Growing Media Ireland told an Oireachtas Committee that “despite significant research into alternatives by GMI members, there are none that can replace horticultural peat in appropriate quality, quantity, or cost.”
“This has left the industry with only one solution – importing peat,” they said.
Later that year, 200 truckloads of peat were imported from Latvia – with 3,600 tonnes of the horticultural medium travelling over 3,000km to Ireland.
“This compares to an average of 10km when peat was harvested locally in a Westmeath factory prior to its effective banning in Ireland,” GMI said at the time.
Briquettes have also been imported from Germany for use in Ireland, even as Irish bogs remain unharvested.
In addition, Nolan also revealed that while Irish peat was not being burned in Edenderry, more than 3,000 of peat and peat mixed products were exported from this country to Japan, a situation she described as “absolute madness”.
“Absolute madness”: 19,000 tonnes of peat and peat mixed products exported to Japan since 2011