Farming Renewables Summit

Our Speakers

Eamonn Ryan TD, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications

Eamon Ryan TD is the Minister for Transport and the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications. He was appointed to these roles in June 2020.

Eamon Ryan was elected to represent Dublin Bay South in the 2020 general election.

He was born in Dublin and raised in Dundrum and Dartry.

He studied commerce in UCD before taking a job managing a marketing course in the university’s School of Business. He went on to found a cycling tourism company, Irish Cycling Safaris, in the late 1980s and in 1996 won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

He was the founding chairperson of the Dublin Cycling Campaign and began his political career as a Dublin City Councillor for the Rathgar-Rathmines ward. He then went on to serve both as a TD for Dublin South and as a Government Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

In recent years he has worked for a European climate organisation and chaired the digital policy group in the Institute of International and European Affairs.

He is currently leader of the Green Party/Comhaontas Glas.

Pippa Hackett TD, Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity

Senator Pippa Hackett is Minister of State for Agriculture with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity. She was appointed to this role in June 2020, only the third senator in the history of the state to be elevated to Cabinet.
Pippa was elected to the Agricultural Panel of Seanad Éireann in a by-election on 1 November 2019 and re-elected in 2020.
She holds a BSc in Agriculture from the University of Essex, a postgraduate diploma from University College Dublin, and a PhD from the University of Limerick.
She is a former member of Offaly County Council.
Along with her husband Mark, Pippa also runs a farm (Moat House Farm) near Tullamore in Co Offaly, where they live with their four children, where they produce organic beef and sheep. They also produce some bloodstock, and have some forestry.

Moat House Farm is situated on the site of a 12th century Norman motte and bailey identified on the ordnance survey map as “The Moat of Down”, hence the business name.
Study of the science of agriculture including farm and animal management & animal nutrition, genetics, food consumption, marketing and accountancy

PJ McCarthy, CEO, Renewable Gas Forum Ireland

CEO and founding member of the Renewable Gas Forum Ireland (RGFI) established in 2014, with a focus on establishing an indigenous renewable gas industry in Ireland.RGFI Representative  on behalf of Industry, on the Design Phase of the Green Gas Certification Scheme (GGCS) for Ireland. On the Board of European Renewable Gas Registry (ERGaR) and partner in REGATRACE a European Trading Hub for RNG across EU Member states. Also Board member European Biogas Association  and member of Advisory Council. Project Lead of the AgriBioCNG Cluster Project – business case for biomethane production. Leading Technical and Strategic support to Project Clover, an industry led initiative and collaboration on the fully integrated business proposal for biomethane, bio fertilisers and soil carbon sequestration.



Tadhg Buckley, Director of Policy, IFA
From a farming background, Tadhg is currently Director of Policy/Chief Economist with the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), Ireland’s largest farming organisation. Prior to joining the IFA last December, Tadhg worked in the finance industry as Head of Agriculture with AIB Bank. He holds a Degree in Agricultural Science from University College Dublin as well as a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from University of Limerick. Tadhg is also a Nuffield Scholar – his study examined the role of dairy futures markets & other price risk management mechanisms in the EU Dairy Industry. He is also a member of the Agricultural Science Association and a Qualified Financial Advisor. He is also actively involved in dairy farming on his home farm in North Cork.
Pat Smith, Managing Director, Local Power 

Pat Smith is MD of Local Power Ltd, a renewable energy company focused on helping businesses reduce their carbon emissions and energy costs. He is also Chairman of MREF the Micro Renewable Energy Federation.

Previously Pat spent a large part of his working career with the Irish Farmers Association in various roles including CEO, Director of Organization and Secretary of the Environment and taxation’s committees. Pat has also worked with Sciottish Agricultural Industries and in Agri- consultancy. Pat has a B.Ag. Sc from UCD and C. Dip in Accountancy and Finance with ACCA and as a qualified Chartered Director with the IOD acts in a non-executive director role for a number of businesses. You can find out more about Pat’s business on which majors on solar PV , battery storage and EV charging solutions for business.

Conall Bolger, CEO, Irish Solar Energy Association
Awaiting bio
James Gaffey, Munster Technological University Tralee

James is a Principal Investigator and Co-Director of the Circular Bioeconomy Research Group at Shannon Applied Biotechnology Centre at Munster Technology University. James was coordinator of the Biorefinery Glas, small-scale grass biorefinery demonstration initiative and is also Scientific Coordinator & Principal Investigator on the BBI JU ICT-BIOCHAIN initiative, and PI on the BBI JU BIOSWITCH project. He is Academic Collaborator in the SFI BEACON BiOrbic Research Centre and part of the BiOrbic-led SFI Zero Emissions Challenge team. New H2020 projects include BIO4AFRICA, COOPID and AgroBridges. James is part of the core programme development team and lecturer on the Postgrad degree programme Bioeconomy with Business co-delivered by Munster Technological University (MTU), UCD and Teagasc. James has been a regular contributor to European-level studies into circular economy and bioeconomy, and has been a member of the Expert Panel for the Impact Assessment of Circular Biobased Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE JU) successor programme to BBI JU under the Horizon Europe programme. He was previously biorefinery specialist on the EU Horizon 2020 AgriForValor Project and prior to joining MTU worked at NUI Galway (Technology Centre for Biorefining and Bioenergy) as part of the “Bio-Éire – a Bioeconomy for Ireland” team. James has worked in the field of advanced biorefining since 2009 through work with Cellulac Ltd., Competence Centre for Biorefining and Bioenergy (NUI Galway), Sustainable Biopolymers Ltd., tcbb RESOURCE, Tralee Institute of Technology and Munster Technological University.

Charlotte Norton - Energy Consultant, Carbon Trust, UK
Charlotte works as a renewable energy consultant within the Cities and Regions team at Carbon Trust. She has experience developing renewable energy projects with the public, private and community sectors, providing support at all stages of renewable energy project development and delivery: from initial site finding and feasibility assessments, to helping to secure finance and determining the most appropriate route to market for energy generation.

Charlotte previously worked for the Energy Systems Catapult supporting the development of innovation projects which aim to accelerate the low carbon energy system transition.

Charlotte has an MSc with distinction in Renewable Energy and the Built Environment from the University of East London, which was delivered by the Centre for Alternative Technology, and a BSc in Geography from the University of Bristol.

Dr Beatrice Smyth, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Queen's University Belfast

Awaiting bio

Professor Mike Jones, Trinity College Dublin

Awaiting bio

Sean Finan, CEO, IRBEA

Seán Finan is the Chief Executive Officer with IrBEA, he is a Chartered Engineer and holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Hons) Degree from National University of Ireland, Galway. Prior to joining IrBEA in 2018, he has over 12 years engineering and management experience with John Sisk & Son (Holding) Ltd. He took a two-year secondment from Sisk (2015 – 2017) to complete the full-time elected role as 35th National President of Macra na Feirme – the young farmers’ representative organisation. Currently a Vice-President of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) he also farms part-time. Over the years he has held various positions within many community, voluntary, representative and statutory organisations at a local, national and European level. Seán is leading IrBEA and its members for a sustainable future in bioenergy and to strategically position bioenergy to play a key role in Ireland’s Sustainability & Renewable Energy Roadmap.

Professor Brian Norton, Head of Energy Research, Tyndall National Institute

Brian Norton is Head of Energy Research at Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork as well as Professor of Solar Energy Applications at TU Dublin and immediate past President of Dublin Institute of Technology. He is a co-principal investigator in MaREI; the SFI Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine. He currently serves on the European Academics Science Advisory Council and is Member of the Royal Irish Academy. He is an honorary fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers and an Honorary Professor at Universities in Northern Ireland, China and the USA. His awards include the CIBSE Napier Shaw Medal, the Energy Institute’s Roscoe Award, the American Association of Publishers PROSE Award, the Solaris Lifetime Achievement Award and the Solar Energy Journal Best Paper Award. Brian Norton’s research has made siginificant contributions in the field of solar energy technologies particularly in agricultural applications, building energy efficiency and sustainability. His publications include over 500 widely-cited research papers and he is sole author/co-author of twelve books.

Billy Costello there, Owner Green Generation
Ellen Diskin, Active System Manager, ESB Network



Russell Smyth, Partner, KPMG



Cora Plant BA, BAI, CENG, MIEI. PlanEnergy Project Director

Cora is an environment and energy professional with a BA (Hons) in Engineering from Trinity College Dublin and 22 years’ experience working with public and private sector clients. She is a Chartered Member of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland.

She works as Project Director with PlanEnergy on utility and local scale renewable energy projects across Ireland. Her expertise includes renewable energy project development, grid connections, environmental assessment, planning, engagement with government agencies and local authorities, technology procurement, contract document preparation and project life cycle project management.

Cora leads a team of internal experts and external specialists working on the technical feasibility and development of renewable energy projects at community and utility scale. She leads the allocation of resources and budgets, engagement with stakeholders at a national and local level as necessary. Some of her recent successes include ECP2 grid connection applications for six community RESS projects, technical and commercial feasibility for three community led solar and wind projects as well as a programme of site acquisitions for an international utility.  

Christian Kjaer, Chief Public Affairs Officer, Supernode




Tara Reale, Head of Business Development, Lightsource BP

Tara joined Lightsource bp in 2019, as a Senior Business Development Manager, and is now Head of Business Development for the UK and Ireland. Prior to joining Lightsource bp, Tara worked on both origination side and the advisory side of large infrastructure transactions in the UK, primarily in the Energy from Waste and Electric Vehicle Charging sectors. Since joining Lightsource bp, she has been leading the development of the Irish business strategy, focusing on the development of utility-scale, grid-connected solar projects and battery storage. Tara is a Chartered Engineer and holds a PhD in Asset Management from Trinity College Dublin.



Gavin Forkan MSc. PlanEnergy Managing Director

Gavin qualified with a BSc in Marine Science from University College Galway in 1996 and an MSc in Environmental Science (Hons) from University College Dublin in 2000. He has more than 22 years expertise in the development of renewable energy projects including utility scale and single turbine onshore wind, solar PV, on-farm biomethane as well as energy efficiency programmes. He has been directly involved in project origination, design and consent for ca. 1200MW of wind and solar on the island of Ireland since 1999.
He leads a range of technical and commercial projects for clients in electricity, heat, energy efficiency and energy policy in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Since 2016 he has led PlanEnergy’s activity in mentoring SEAI Sustainable Energy Community groups across the Border and Western counties. For the past three years Gavin has been an EU Horizon 2020 Expert Evaluator for consumer and locally led energy projects. He is currently directing the development of a renewable energy training programme for Teagasc farm advisors in the Border, Midlands and Western region of Ireland.



Daniel Murray, Political Editor, Business Post
James Staines, Principal, Staines Law
Mark Howell, Global Product Manager Alternative Fuels & Telehandlers, New Holland Agriculture

Mark Howell is a Global Product Manager for New Holland, a brand of CNH Industrial.
With over 15 years’ experience in product development and commercialisation, in his current role, he is leading the introduction of alternative fuel products within the agricultural business. He is responsible for projects such as the Energy Independent FarmTM concept, the NH2 TM Hydrogen powered Tractor concept, and the New Holland’s methane-powered tractor concept, which explored the potential of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) technology in agriculture. The project has led to the development of the first-generation T6 Methane Power prototype tractor presented in 2013. The third generation, first shown in 2019, was the world’s first 100% methane-powered production tractor. The T6 Methane Power tractor will be commercialised in 2021, creating the opportunity for farmers to power their tractor with biomethane generated from crops and agricultural waste in a virtuous cycle with the potential to be carbon neutral and even carbon negative. 
Mark is a Chartered Engineer Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and an associate member of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE), and holds an Agricultural Engineering degree from Harper Adams University, UK.

Moderator: Bobby Smith,Senior Policy Advisor, WEI
Eddie Punch, General Secretary, ICSA
David McDowell, Manager, Green Gas
Jason Webb, Chief Content Officer, Agri Insider
Justin Roberts, Agriland Machinery Specialist
Dr. Niamh Power, Lecturer & Researcher, Department of Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering, Munster Technological University - Cork

Dr. Niamh Power is a Lecturer and Researcher, in Munster Technological University, Ireland.
She received an honours degree in Civil & Structural Engineering coming top of her class, before pursuing her PhD in the area of waste management, anaerobic digestion and biogas as a transport fuel. Her interests are; biogas, anaerobic digestion, renewable energy from wastes & crops, transport & CHP, Life Cycle Analysis and policies & drivers for change. She is involved in a number of large EU research projects on the circular economy, concentrating on the sustainable use of nutrients these projects including Phos4You   and ReNu2Farm.

Paul Dullaghan, Head of New Business Team, Business Banking, Area North & West, AIB

A native of Galway, Paul is Head of New Business Development for AIB Business Banking in the Midlands and North West region. Prior to joining AIB in 2012 Paul was a senior lender with KBC Bank in Business Banking. A Bachelor of Commerce and Masters of Business  Studies graduate of NUI Galway, Paul currently leads the AIB Commercial lending teams in the North West across all sectors with a specific focus on Renewable and Sustainability lending.  

Donal Dennehy, Operations Director, Danone Ireland

Donal Dennehy is  Operations Director for Danone Ireland  (with specific responsibility for the  Danone Macroom facility) and also  Director of  the Danone Global Centre of Excellence for spray drying technology.  He  currently chairs Project Clover, a unique collaboration by the Irish food industry who came together to fund a Feasibility Study on an integrated business proposal with Anaerobic Digestion producing biomethane as the enable to decarbonise agriculture food production and supply chain.   Prior to joining Danone, Donal was   operations manager for  Bulmer’s Ltd.  He  commenced his career with Beamish & Crawford as a trainee brewer, having qualified in brewing as well as  food science/technology.

Dinny Galvin, Farmer
Bernard Fox, Farmer

I am the third generation born into and raised on the family farm based just north of the Armagh, Monaghan border.

The farm originally consisted of a dairy and suckler herd alongside an agri contracting business my father started in the early 1980’s, which changed to solely suckling and dry stock plus some poultry over the years so I had a great variety.  During my upbringing on the family farm I was involved in everything and given reasonability from a young age which gave me insight to all parts of the farm business including the financial end, from which my sisters and myself were always encouraged to have a business mindset and look for opportunities.  Over the years it became clear to me that the crop production and machinery side of agriculture was my passion.

As a teenager I started to work in the construction industry along side other things, which then led me to study and complete a Beng Hons Degree in Civil Engeering +DIS.  After graduation in 2008, I worked in both the Irish and UK market focused mainly on heavy structures i.e. Bridges, underpasses, culverts and highway construction.  As part of various modules (water resources, hydraulics, stainable environment, etc.) in the Hon’s degree we studied Anaerobic Digestion as a method to treat waste water while producing stainable energy and high quality bio fertiliser as a byproduct. This well proven technology quickly created the light bulb momentum of stainable/viable agri.  like most siblings from a farming family will agree there is always the desire to be able to return home to farm which never would have been possible for me via the traditional routes.

On the family farm we also started to process firewood on a small scale for a few year, but after I graduated I saw the viability of building a business out of this to help diversify the farm.  After a lot of research I secured funding from a rural development scheme which we used to purchase and setup a full timber processing plant to help meet the demand for our products and to really expand this side of the farm business.  This has been successful and is still in full operation today which we intend to use the excess heat from the AD plant to rapidly season our products to the required 20% Dry matter and below to meet new regulations.

While still in my final year at college I began my research into anaerobic digestion and more specifically agri based AD. This was a long road, as there was very little to no knowledge in this industry in the Uk or Irish market at that time.  While working as a civil engineer I continued to progress my AD research and knowledge involving several visits to Germany, Austria, Denmark, Holland, etc.

The research turned into a viable route forward in my eyes to allow me to return home to run and take over the family farm and I began feasibility studies and pre planning consultations in 2010.  This progressed to me obtaining full planning permission for a 500kw AD plant and associated grid connections and capacity in 2011.  I had always been progressing my own work on the side but decided to incorporate my own Company (RAMGen Ltd) in November 2011 involving works in  construction, consulting, agri and renewables.  I started the earth works on my own digester in 2012 with the main construction starting in 2013.  The plant was 90% completed by December 2013 but due to some delays on the grid the plant was connected and energised in February 2014.  After this the commissioning started but it was 2015 before the plant was above 90% capacity.

After nearly 6 years of operation we now farm approx 600 acres & continue to learn something new every day and continue to improve and optimise what we’re doing right from field to end product.