Clean CNG gas produced from food waste to power the transport fleet
Trucks, vans and buses will be powered with compressed natural gas (CNG) and renewable gas from later this year under a €25m project being spearheaded by Gas Networks Ireland (GNI).
The Causeway project will see 14 fast-fill CNG stations being developed on main transport routes, with bio-methane produced from food and farm waste injected into the grid to ramp up use of renewable energy.
NUI Galway will work with GNI to monitor how use of the renewable energy impacts on the grid, while examining usage from the transport fleet and other technical issues. Data will be disseminated to operators across the EU, which is providing €6.5m towards the project.
The university's project manager, Pádraic Ó hUiginn, from the Ryan Institute, said Ireland would be used as a test bed to see if the technology could be rolled out across Europe.
"We'll get the raw data and make it available into a form which can be communicated widely to very technical people who might want micro-data, and to policy makers as well, including officials and politicians," he said.
"Ireland is kind of a test bed for this in terms of how the use of the gas for transport will impact on the grid. The key thing is that it is cleaner than diesel and from an NUI Galway point of view, the interesting aspect is the renewable bio-methane will be introduced to the grid for the first time."
Over time, some 70 CNG filling stations will be developed, with work due to start this year.
A renewable-gas injection facility is also planned in Waterford, which will introduce renewable gas into the natural gas network for the first time.
The work will be monitored and documented by NUI Galway and fed back to gas operators all over Europe, where it will assist in the development of similar projects across the continent.
Head of commercial at GNI, Denis O'Sullivan, said transport accounted for one-third of all energy use in Ireland and CNG would help decarbonise the commercial fleet.
"It is particularly important that the advances we are making through this project will play a role in changing the transport landscape," he added.