Gabriel D'Arcy: 'more sustainable'

COAL SALES represented the single-largest source of revenue in 2008 for Bord Na Móna, the semi-state company which announced 300 'green' jobs last week, according to its new annual report.

The company, which launched a new 'Contract with Nature' last year, increased its coal sales by almost 40% during 2008 to €66m.

Its home-heating oil sales also rose during the period to €35.9m.

By contrast, sales at its flagship green division, Environmental Products, fell by over 36% during the same period to €18.6m.

The firm's managing director Gabriel D'Arcy admitted that, despite its heavily-promoted green credentials, Bord Na Móna remained the market leader in fossil-fuel distribution for home use.

But he said the organisation was changing to a more sustainable business model. "We're going to convert more and more of those products into eco-products. For instance, we have launched eco-briquettes, which are made from biomass rather than peat," he said.

D'Arcy said the company was also planning to develop district heating systems to replace its current home-heating products.

"This is how the Scandinavians provide heat to their homes," he said. "They have a boiler in each town pumping hot water and central heating, which eliminates their requirement for fossil fuels."

The company's annual report also reveals that up to 30% of its turnover still comes from peat-fired power generation, which emits more far carbon than generating electricity from either coal or gas.

But D'Arcy said that the company has been increasing the amount of biomass (such as waste wood) used instead of peat at its power station in Edenderry, Co Offaly. "Our target is to get to 30% displacement of peat by biomass in our power station," he said.

Bord Na Móna has come increasingly under the spotlight in recent weeks as a result of the Bord Snip Nua report's recommendation that it be privatised or forced to sell its non-core assets.

It appears, however, that the minister for energy Eamon Ryan is determined to hold onto the company as part of the Green Party's drive to develop a "green economic policy".