Ireland – Biofuels, palm oil and industrial waste.

I became aware of NORA – National Oil Reserve Agency while researching Peak Oil back in 2007. A recent document posted on NORA, the state body with responsibility for implementation of the Biofuel Obligation Scheme states some disturbing plans related to palm oil.

It reads:

“Proposed Determination

To Whom it may Concern

In accordance with Section 44G (1) (a) of the Energy (Biofuel Obligation and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2010, the National oil Reserves Agency (NORA), following consultation with the persons listed below, proposes to determine that the feedstock material referred to as Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME) in the Application for Biofuel Obligation Certificates which was submitted to the Agency on 2nd December 2013 by Valero Ireland Ltd, can be considered to be a biodegradeable waste. Accordingly, the Agency proposes to issue two biofuel obligation certificates in respect of each litre of such biofuel disposed of by sale or otherwise in the State as reported to the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources. In making this Proposed Determination, NORA has consulted with the following persons:

    • the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI),
    • the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI),
    • the Environmental Protection Agency,
    • the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government,

Representations in respect of this Proposed Determination should be made directly to NORA, in writing, within 28 days of the date of this publication.

Signed:__ _________ For and on behalf of the National Oil Reserves Agency;

Date: __17/ 12 / 2013____

BÓC-CMG, 30-30A Westland Square, Dublin 2, Ireland.

Assisting the National Oil Reserves Agency with the Biofuels Obligation Scheme

website: email:”

NORA has decided that it is not only going to allow Palm oil be used as a fuel in Ireland, it is going to give it double credits.

Some facts about Palm Oil:

  • Palm Oil production has increased rapidly in recent years leading to rapid deforestation of rain-forests.
  • Many reports have declared that Palm Oil usage actually accelerates carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Deforestation for Palm Oil production in Borneo and Sumatra is estimated at levels as high as 300 football fields per hour.
  • This rapid removal of habitat has lead to over 90% of the habitat of the critically endangered orangutan being removed over the past 20 years.
  • Added to this fact is that the clear felled land is only suitable for Palm oil production for 20-50 years, after which the land is drained of nutrients and the plantations must be moved to freshly clear felled rain-forests.
  • This is by far and wide the least sustainable source of renewable fuel.

If Ireland is to adopt renewable fuels it must first ensure that those fuels that it is adopting are truly sustainable, and do not threaten the delicate ecosystems of the planet either in Ireland or abroad.

At the very least we must put the onus on suppliers to ensure biofuels meet EU Biofuel Sustainability Criteria. Usage of so called certification schemes such as  the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) or the Indonesian Palm Oil Council (GAKPI) must be backed up with a legal responsibility to ensure biofuels meet EU Sustainability Criteria.

Many Certification Schemes do exist purely to provide a compliant “paper trail” to allow product to market. We must ensure that we do not fall foul of green washing agendas within corporate bodies, we must ensure that all biofuel is sustainable in the true sense of the word.

We have until January 14th to make representation about this “proposed determination”

Here is a link to the document –


Theresa Carter January 3rd 2014

Published by Theresa OD

Change maker and mother of 5 living in the west of Ireland

11 thoughts on “Ireland – Biofuels, palm oil and industrial waste.

  1. Good luck with this new enterprise Theresa! One of the things that I find especially galling about this is that Ireland does not need to import bio-fuels, it is quite capable of producing sufficient to meet the obligation from its own resources. As long ago as November 2010 warniong bells were being sounded about the risks inherent in the way European nations were implementing the obligation:

    1. Bord Gais are pushing the idea of using a natural gas & biomethane mix in trucks. CO2 emissions are reduced and it is more than cost competitive with Diesel (i.e. cheaper). After the document above they went a little cold on the whole thing but they are now showing good interest again.

  2. The biofuel obligation scheme (BOS) when set up closed 7 of our 8 biofuel plants in Ireland. It favours imported fuels pre-blended over Irish produced fuels. Not Minister Eamon Ryans finest hour!!
    The BOS must ensure that all fuel used actually fits the brief of reducing environmental impact in terms of carbon emissions, process and combustion emissions and habitat impact. Otherwise it is a farce.

    1. Hi Noel, thanks for your information. I’ve been checking your IrBEA website and following the link to EU publications about the BOS. How can we ascertain whether this particular fuel source meets the criteria? Is the information provided to NORA to enable them to issue the cerificate available to the public?

      1. I don’t know, but IrBEA will be meeting NORA on another item later this week (to get Biomethane recognised as a biofuel) and I will be asking this question.

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