Following extensive lobbying and advocacy by the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) and its members over recent years, the Climate Action Plan published by the Government in December 2023, contains for the first-time recognition of the role of both biochar and bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) as carbon removal measures.

Stephen McCormack, Project Executive with IrBEA said: “We are delighted to finally see reference to biochar and the potential role it can play in delivering on our shared climate action ambitions. IrBEA and its members acknowledge that biochar production and use, from biomass, can sequester carbon, but also has the ability to be used within a whole host of sectors including environmental applications, the bioeconomy, agriculture, horticulture, bioenergy (heat and electricity) production as well as biomaterials to name a few. While the mention of biochar is welcomed in the draft climate action plan, this may be viewed as a first step, and one which will require further policy development, research and support.”

IrBEA, as the representative body for the biochar industry in Ireland, has a growing number of members involved in this emerging sector – everyone from biomass suppliers, technology providers and installers, consultants, research bodies and analytics, producers and users. IrBEA has also participated in a series of successive Interreg Northwest Europe (NWE) funded projects. Through these projects knowledge transfer and product development ideas have been rolled out in collaboration with international partners, giving valuable insight into the role biochar can play. The latest of these, the CASCADE project, will see IrBEA work with industry stakeholders to further develop biochar application scenarios within the pilot region of County Donegal, where the emphasis will be on agricultural, horticultural and environmental applications of biochar.

Sean Finan, CEO of IrBEA stated that: “The draft climate action plan acknowledges the potential role that biochar and bioenergy carbon capture and storage technology can play in carbon removals including the bioeconomy. We welcome the possibility of these technologies being utilised to address unallocated savings as updated carbon budgets are calculated for the second half of the decade. Key industry stakeholders have advocated for years how biochar production is one of most cost effective “safe, scalable and shovel ready” methods of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies at our disposal where the carbon sequestered is widely recognised as having a good level of permanence. The production of biochar using pyrolysis technology is a valuable source of bioenergy (heat and electricity) and the resultant biochar can be used in a wide variety of sectors really adds to its attractiveness as a tool for fighting climate change.”

2023 was a turning point for biochar here in Ireland. IrBEA hosted a very successful Biochar and Carbon Products conference in May. In addition, several prominent and high-profile biochar related speakers presented at IrBEA’s National Bioenergy conference in October. Recently, IrBEA developed a feasibility study to explore sustainable management of agricultural green waste in Ireland on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and this report identified biochar production and use, as one of several feasible, viable and sustainable alternatives to burning agricultural green waste. 2023 also saw biochar’s inclusion in carbon farming discussions at both a national and European level.

Seán Finan concluded: “Biochar’s inclusion in the draft Climate Action Plan is a positive step and – having first been identified by the Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) as far back as 2018 as one of the promising negative emissions technologies (NET) capable of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) at scale.”

Stephen McCormack concluded: “2024 is set to be an exciting year for the development of the emerging biochar sector here in Ireland. Arigna Fuels in Co. Roscommon will commission their new production plant, which will mean Ireland will be home to one of the largest biochar production capacities in Europe. There are numerous other production plants in various stages of commissioning or planning, with technologies being developed at differing scales of production and sophistication. There has been an obvious increase in awareness and recognition of biochar’s potential across various Government departments, research bodies and industry. We look forward to continuing to work with our members, including our dedicated Biochar and Carbon Products working group, alongside other stakeholders to further develop the sector and see its position as a CDR strategy strengthened.”

About CASCADE (Circular Conversion Cascades to Transform Residual Biomass to Carbon Products)
Project video available at
The CASCADE project is an Interreg NWE funded project with 7 project partners across Ireland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. It is the 3rd biochar related Interreg project IrBEA have been involved in, which also included the THREE C and the RE-DIRECT projects.
Biomass-to-Biochar product and value chains will be introduced, managed, and optimised, considering different input sources and optimised recovery, production, processing and conversion modes in the 7 urban, rural and semi-urban pilot regions across Northwest Europe.
The regional CASCADE-pilot projects will be quality checked, constantly improved along a Plan-Do-Check-Act procedure based on technological, ecological, economical, and social criteria. A CASCADE Capacity Building programme will be designed and implemented to roll out the Biomass-to-Biochar value chains in the project and follower regions. A CASCADE Centre of Excellence & TechLab will be established to continuously deliver hybrid Quality Management and Capacity Building services. They include central and decentral training and development activities, mobile roadshows and a growing hybrid exhibition for carbon products, services and systems.
In Ireland, the pilot region of County Donegal has been chosen where Cill Ulta, a social enterprise growing fruit and vegetables using only sustainable and regenerative methods, will assist IrBEA and associated partners, Biocarbon Ireland, in trialling various applications of biochar. Further details can be found at:

What is Biochar?

  • High carbon content solid material made by heating biomass in the absence of oxygen in process called pyrolysis.
  • Can be made from a wide variety of biomass, which once converted thermally, are recalcitrant or extremely stable, meaning it will not decompose potentially for hundreds of years.
  • Being highly porous, it makes an excellent adsorbent. One gramme of powdered biochar can have a surface area of anywhere between 10 and 500 meters squared. This makes it an excellent filtration medium.
  • Biochar was highlighted by the 2018 report by the (IPCC) intergovernmental panel on climate change as being a promising Negative Emissions Technology, meaning it has potential to draw down and sequester atmospheric carbon.
  • It shows exciting potential as a soil improver, increasing carbon content and providing habitats for beneficial soil microbiology.
  • Biochar production facilities increasingly involved in voluntary carbon removal markets.
  • Modern production facilities will have a way to use the excess thermal energy produced, increasing efficiencies (as process heat or district heating networks as an example).
  • IrBEA counts among its membership, biomass suppliers, biochar producers and users, pyrolysis technology providers and developers, animal feed additive producers, activated carbon specialists and biochar analytics.

Climate Action Plan 2024

It will open for public consultation in the coming months.