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Report finds biomethane key to de-carbonisation

Mitchelstown plant will produce enough renewable gas to heat around 64,000 homes

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The core aim of the report was to asses whether Ireland can development and environmentally sustainable biomethane industry without creating unintended negative consequences.

The core aim of the report was to asses whether Ireland can development and environmentally sustainable biomethane industry without creating unintended negative consequences.

The core aim of the report was to asses whether Ireland can development and environmentally sustainable biomethane industry without creating unintended negative consequences.

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THE use of agriculturally produced biomethane (renewable gas) from food and farm animal waste, which can be fed into the national network though plants such as one planned for Mitchelstown, could help reduce beef farm emissions by up to 25%.

That’s according to a report entitled ‘Sustainability of Biomethane Production in Ireland’, which highlights the huge benefits that a thriving Irish biomethane industry can have both for farmers and the environment.

Earlier this year An Bord Pleanála upheld a ruling by Cork County Council to grant Gas Networks Ireland planning permission for the central gas injection plant at Corracunna/Garryleagh near Mitchelstown.

The site was selected by the company as one the key locations for its innovative GRAZE (Green Renewable Agricultural & Zero Emissions) gas project, which they say would be the latest step in “de-carbonising Ireland’s gas network”.

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The Mitchelstown facility, the second of its kind in the country, will channel enough renewable gas to heat around 64,000 homes from farm and food waste processed in more than 20 agri-anerobic digestion biomethane units within a 60km radius.

The EU Green Deal has highlighted biomethane as a vital tool in de-carbonising European agriculture and energy systems, with the European Commission identified Ireland as having the highest potential per capita to produce the carbon neutral renewable gas.

The new report, undertaken by Devenish Nutrition and KPMG Sustainable Futures, found that agriculturally produced biomethane can be delivered sustainably and at scale to help reduce on-farm emissions and de-carbonise Ireland’s energy system without reducing the national herd, disrupting food production, intensifying agricultural activities or impacting on biodiversity.

It further found that the process for producing biomethane could reduce the direct application of raw slurry to land and that the resulting digestate by-product could displace chemical fertilisers and pesticides, thereby decreasing ammonia and nitrous oxide emissions and improving soil quality and soil carbon sequestration.

Devenish Nutrition’s sustainable agricultural manager, David Hagan, said the challenge of addressing on-farm emissions has emerged as “one of the most difficult pieces of the climate policy jigsaw”.

“Ensuring a sustainable livelihood for primary producers and supporting growth in our food industries while also protecting our environment is both critical and challenging. This report outlines how Ireland can deliver a sustainable, agriculture-led biomethane industry,” said Mr Hagan.

Ian O’Flynn of Gas Networks Ireland said the company’s vision was to replace natural gas with renewable gas such as biomethane and hydrogen.

He said this would reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions while also complimenting complementing intermittent renewable electricity and ensuring a secure energy supply.

“Agriculturally produced biomethane can be delivered sustainably and at scale to help reduce on-farm emissions and support more sustainable food supply chains,” said Mr O’Flynn.

“It can seamlessly replace natural gas in the national network, de-carbonise the energy system, diversify our indigenous energy supply, enhance our energy security, and generate significant employment opportunities in rural Ireland, creating additional income sources for farmers and local communities,” he added.

To view the ‘Sustainability of Biomethane Production in Ireland’ report follow the link at www.gasnetworksireland.ie.


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