€126m Bord na Móna plan aims to store 100m tonnes of CO2 in peatland

24 Nov 2020

Image: © Gabriel Cassan/Stock.adobe.com

Bord na Móna aims to store more than 100m tonnes of CO2 within peatlands as part of a new carbon capture project.

Bord na Móna has today (24 November) launched its Peatlands Restoration Plan, with up to €108m in backing from the Government and an additional €18m from its own resources. The plan will look to convert Ireland’s peatlands from fossil fuel sources to large-scale carbon capture sites.

The semi-State estimates that it will secure a store of more than 100m tonnes of CO2 in perpetuity and millions more tonnes in the coming years. The initial development will involve 80,000 acres of its boglands, but others are set to follow.

‘This project will turn carbon sources into sinks, restore biodiversity and help us meet our climate goals’

Bord na Móna expects the plan will sustain 350 jobs in the company. Most of these roles will be taken up by employees who were previously working in peat harvesting, but will now work in the areas of operations, engineering and ecology as part of restoration efforts.

Walking tracks, trails and other amenities will also be constructed in certain parts of the boglands, while efforts to protect biodiversity will begin. Other peatlands will be rehabilitated outside of Bord na Móna’s landholding and it is cooperating with the National Parks and Wildlife Service to expand this operation into third-party lands over the next decade.

Preparation work began in June and Bord na Móna said that full-scale operations will commence in April next year.

‘A major win’

“This is a major win for Ireland’s progress on climate action,” said Bord na Móna chief executive Tom Donnellan. “Peatlands only cover 3pc of the Earth’s surface but hold 30pc of all the carbon stored on land. They have a unique natural power to capture carbon and deliver significant wins for us and for future generations.”

He added that the investment will “quickly yield a range of rich benefits for society”.

“Where once peat was harvested, Bord na Móna will now take meaningful action to keep over 100m tonnes of carbon in the ground, capture millions more tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere, and create rich and diverse habitats for our native plant and animal species.”

Eamon Ryan stands on a wooden deck beside a bog, speaking into a microphone.

Minister Eamon Ryan speaking at today’s announcement. Image: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, TD, added: “Bog rehabilitation and remediation is a wonderful example of ‘just transition’ in action, where workers who previously harvested peat for power generation will now be the custodians of our bogs.

“This project will turn carbon sources into sinks, restore biodiversity and help us meet our climate goals.”

In September, Bord na Móna said it was seeking to raise €1.6bn to fund a series of projects over the course of the next decade, including efforts to build wind and solar infrastructure across 200,000 acres of its landholdings.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic