Monday 17 June 2019

Slurry is the future of energy

Slurry from local farms can be used to power family homes

Maria Herlihy

Slurry may have more power than just its obvious odour as the Government plans to harness power from waste.

Slurry can be used to power family homes and can be regarded as the future of energy production in this country. A report from Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland has highlighted the potential of harnessing gas from slurry and silage.

It found that biogas or biomethane could potentially contribute to 28% of the country's gas supply by 2025, and by 2050, half of all supply could be produced in this way.

Anaerobic digesters can harness gas produced by cattle, pigs and sheep and are already widely used in other European countries. There are just 31 biogas plants in this country, with 10 biogas plants using animal byproducts (ABPs). However, in Germany there are about 9,000 anaerobic digester plants and 1,900 in Italy. 

Minister Michael Creed said that a key benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is by displacement of use of fossil fuels. 

"Wider environmental benefits include effective slurry management, water quality improvements, improved soil nutrient management, and reduction in odours from slurry spreading," he said. 

But it must be noted that setting up and operating anaerobic digesters can be prohibitive to farmers as there can be difficulties in securing traditional forms of financial support because of the length of return on investment. 

Back in November, Climate  Action and Environment Minister Richard Bruton announced seven successful projects under the Climate Action Fund. This included the awarding of €8.5m to Gas Networks Ireland for the development of a Graze project in Mitchelstown. 

Mitchelstown was chosen as the location for the pilot project due to the high number of cattle in the area and its close proximity to the country's biggest gas line.

"The development of anaerobic digestion facilities to produce biogas for use in heating or biomethane for injection into the gas grid has a key role to play in Ireland's transition to a low carbon future," a spokesperson for Mr Bruton said.