New Bioenergy Training Course for farmers: Gurteen College and IrBEA combine

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A new bioenergy training course for farmers will start on Friday 20th January 2023. It will be run as a collaboration between Gurteen College and the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA). The project is made possible by funding from the National Just Transition Fund for the wider Midlands region and Gurteen College and IrBEA’s agreement to deliver it jointly.

“This is a pivotal time for farming and climate action, and we are delighted to partner with the Irish Bioenergy Association to bring in its bioenergy technical knowledge and market development expertise for the delivery of this course. It reflects our ongoing delivery of sustainability in farming programmes for our students, and it will play an important part in the Just Transition for the wider Midlands region,” commented Gurteen College Principal, Jon Parry.

A collaborative learning approach is a key part of our ethos here at Gurteen, and in this case, collaborating with IrBEA means that we can broaden and deepen the level of knowledge and expertise that the Bioenergy Training Course can access and offer to our students”, added Mr. Parry.

IrBEA’s Chief Executive Officer, Seán Finan commented that this course is an exciting opportunity for farmers interested in bioenergy, regardless of their previous level of knowledge or expertise in it: “Sustainability, energy and new income opportunities are very much at the core of discussions both about farming generally and amongst farmers themselves. This new Bioenergy Training Course offers the whole spectrum of farmers an opportunity to learn more about sustainable bioenergy, and the different ways it can contribute to farming, the economy, and our communities and environment”, stated Mr Finan.

He went on to say that: “We are delighted to have arrived at this point where this exciting training opportunity for farmers is about to start, and look forward to delivering this collaboration with Gurteen College. We have been pleased to collaborate with Gurteen College on some other initiatives to date, and we look forward to the new Bioenergy Training Course being a great success. I want to thank Jon Parry, Gurteen College’s Principal, its Course Co-ordinator, Niall Finnegan and our own Co-ordinator for this course, Pádraic Ó hUiginn for his role in enabling it to get up and running.”

The course delivery will involve a mix of lectures, demonstrations and site visits. Topics covered will include: bioenergy, an overview; energy crops and solid biomass; gaseous bioenergy: biogas and biomethane; costs and budgeting; liquid biofuels, biochar, and bioenergy’s role in building sustainable biomass supply chains. There will also be a day tour as part of the course.

Gurteen College has 75 years of experience of agricultural teaching and training. IrBEA represents the broad remit of bioenergy, across the island of Ireland, since 1999. The bioenergy training course will run for one day a week for six weeks, with the possibility of some additional modules emerging from the discussions and learnings on the course. A team from IrBEA and Gurteen College will jointly deliver the course. The course will be provided on a funded scholarship-type basis. On-site attendance and participation at Gurteen College is required, where meals will be provided. The course promises to provide an exciting combination of Gurteen College’s farming and agricultural expertise and IrBEA’s bioenergy expertise, including support to bioenergy enterprise and market development. For farmers, there will be a particular focus on knowledge transfer in relation to sustainable energy crop production and anaerobic digestion.

“We are looking forward to welcoming back some former students and meeting some new students, who have already committed to the Bioenergy Training Course. There has been a lot of interest in it. We have a very small number of places still available, so if you are genuinely interested, and can commit to attending for the full duration, please get in touch with us to book a place by telephoning 067 21282 or by emailing with your name and phone number to info@gurteencollege.ie. Places will be filled on a first-come first-served basis, with a waiting list operating after that”, said Niall Finnegan, Bioenergy Training Course Co-ordinator at Gurteen College.

“This is an excellent opportunity for IrBEA to share knowledge and raise awareness amongst key stakeholders of the opportunities in bioenergy and also in the Midlands Bioenergy Development Project to help build up bioenergy supply chains”, stated IrBEA’s co-ordinator for the course, Pádraic Ó hUiginn.

“It will also be interesting to hear the insights and questions that the students themselves will bring to the Bioenergy Training Course, with the discussions within the modules being a key part of the course’s learning approach”, concluded Mr. Ó hUiginn.

The Bioenergy Training Course is facilitated through Gurteen College’s lead role in the Producing and Promoting Green Energy project, and IrBEA’s delivery of the Midlands Bioenergy Development Project, each funded by the National Just Transition Fund.