On-farm anaerobic digestion and solar PV won’t contribute to the legally binding 25% emissions reduction ceiling for 2030 applied to the agriculture sector, according to officials at the Department of Environment.

They said that such renewable energy investment on farms, and the emissions reduced through it, will be accounted for in the energy sector’s target and Ireland’s “overall” emissions reductions.

“It just goes into the total. At the end of the day, it’s about the total,” said officials close to Minister Eamon Ryan.

They said the incentive for farmers to invest in renewables would instead be a “very significant economic opportunity” where a “portion of a farm” could “go down that direction” and provide “another income source”.

The fact that farmer work on renewable energy will not contribute to its 25% emissions reduction ceiling is down to the accounting framework used.

Emissions reductions cannot be accounted for twice.

However, contradicting the officials, Minister Charlie McConalogue said “one of the key ways” for agriculture to meet a 25% emissions reduction will be its “capacity to contribute to energy”.

“And really importantly, it will be about providing options to farmers to do that and backing them financially with income streams,” he said.

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Emissions reduction target of 25% set for agriculture