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Name / Title

Western Development Commission – The Wood Energy Strategy for the Western Region

Case Study Region

West of Ireland

Geographical coverage

Roscommon, Mayo and Galway – rest of counties in Connacht.


Advice service; project; policy

Main activity / focus


The Western Development Commission established the Regional Wood Energy Advisory Group in 2006.  Their central activity is to facilitate the acceleration of growth in wood energy by providing a coordinated and strategic framework for the development of the sector.

Target beneficiaries / market

Rural inhabitants; forestry planters; any individual investing in the biomass sector.

Year established


Current Funding source(s)

The Western Development Commission (WDC) and the Regional Wood Energy Advisory Group (RWEAG) in conjunction with EU funding.


The Western Development Commission (WDC) supported by the Regional Wood Energy Advisory Group (RWEAG) which includes:  Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland; Teagasc; Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Clare Local Development; Irish Farmers Association; Galway City Council; Department of Agriculture; Sligo Institute of Technology; Donegal County Council; Udarás na Gaeltachta; Irish Bioenergy Association.


http://www.wdc.ie/ (The Western Development Commission)




In 2006, the Western Development Commission facilitated the acceleration of growth in wood energy by providing a coordinated and strategic framework for the development of the sector.  They established The Regional Wood Energy Advisory Group which acts as a regional coordination mechanism to Western counties including Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.  Research commissioned by the WDC, with the support of the Advisory Group, showed that the most appropriate opportunity for ‘developing the wood energy sector in the region is in the supply of wood chip from private-sector forestry to commercial and industrial heat users’ (hotels, hospitals, schools). 

In an action plan for growth/development of the wood energy sector the WDC mapped out regional targets which are clearly outlined in a report titled: Wood Energy Strategy for Western Region.  This strategy identified that the ‘key drivers for the growth of the sector are a proactive development approach and the provision of expertise and advice at regional level’. The central aim of the WDC Strategy and Action Plan is to develop the entire supply chain – from producer to end user.  The Commission is confident that this will ensure a consistent supply of wood chip by coordinating the large number of small-scale private foresters across the region. 

According to the research carried out the Strategy and Action Plan is designed to achieve a regional heat target of 477 MW of heat by 2020 (approximately 11% of the regional heat market). The WDC’s research suggests that this will: ‘create 887 full time
equivalent (FTE) jobs in the Western Region; generate CO2 savings of 619,000 tonnes per annum (a benefit of €6.9m if carbon is valued at €15 per tonne) for the region; generate 477 MW of heat energy, utilising 472,000 tonnes of timber with an annual value of €1.7 million to the farming sector and increase annual Gross Value Added (GVA) in the Western Region of €15 million’. 

The WDC, supported by the Regional Advisory Group, has already begun to deliver elements of the Strategy and Action Plan and three actions were completed in 2008: ‘An analysis of the community enterprise opportunities presented by the wood fuel supply chain in a joint initiative with Údarás na Gaeltachta; a review and best practice guide on the role of local authorities in supporting the wood energy sector in partnership with Donegal County Council and an assessment of the biomass combined heat and power (CHP) market potential in the region and the potential economic benefits that could be derived from development of the sector’.


Contact details



Ms. Bernadette Phelan
Western Development Commission,
Dillon House,
County Roscommon, Ireland
Phone:+353 (0)94-9861441
Email: info@wdc.ie