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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Biomethane ‘a sustainable solution’ for Irish farmers – GNI

Biomethane is a sustainable solution for Irish farmers and energy security.

That was the key take-home message from Gas Networks Ireland’s biomethane industry webinar last week.

More than 270 interested parties – including farmers, developers and industry bodies – joined proceedings.

Attendees heard how agriculturally produced biomethane could be delivered sustainably and at scale to decarbonise Ireland’s energy system.

They received an update on the national and European biomethane policy landscape.

Also, they learned of the importance of the ongoing consultation on the proposed Renewable Heat Obligation, which, if enacted, will support production at scale and help Ireland achieve its climate ambitions.

Speakers also discussed:

  • The process for producing and injecting biomethane into the national network;
  • Also, the proposed Mitchelstown Central Grid Injection (CGI) facility;
  • How to attain certification and how it is recorded in the national registry.

The line-up of experts included Gas Networks Ireland innovation engineer, Niamh Gillen. She represented Ireland at the international finals of the Institution of Gas Engineers & Managers (IGEM) Young Professionals Competition last year.

Biomethane

Gas Networks Ireland colleagues Declan O’Sullivan, Ian Kilgallon, Yvette Jones and Brendan O’Riordan, KPMG’s Russell Smyth and Devenish Nutrition’s David Hagan, joined Gillen.

Renewable gas project manager, Yvette Jones, leader of the Mitchelstown CGI project, said:

“Ireland has the highest potential for biomethane production per capita in the EU according to the European Commission, providing a strong opportunity to develop a thriving indigenous biomethane industry, support energy security and, importantly for Irish farmers, reduce agricultural emissions.”

A carbon-neutral renewable gas made from farm and food waste through a process known as anaerobic digestion (AD), biomethane has “already begun to seamlessly replace natural gas in the national network”.

Farmers reducing waste and emissions

Gas Networks Ireland’s innovation and business development manager, Ian Kilgallon, said:

“Across Europe, biomethane is seen as a vital solution for decarbonising energy systems while also providing a more sustainable solution for farmers to reduce their waste and emissions.”

“In countries around Europe, including the UK, Italy, France and Germany, it plays an important role in decarbonising sectors such as heat and transport.”

“Within both the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy and Irish agri-food industry, the development of biomethane and the production of a nutrient-rich bio-fertiliser digestate, which is a by-product of anaerobic digestion, is seen as a key element in decarbonising agriculture.”

By replacing natural gas with renewable gases such as biomethane and hydrogen, Ireland can, attendees heard:

  • Sustainably deliver a net-zero carbon gas network to complement intermittent renewable electricity generation;
  • Meet its climate action targets;
  • Support a cleaner energy future while ensuring a secure energy supply.

Gas Networks Ireland introduced domestically produced biomethane into the national network in 2019 via the country’s first dedicated renewable gas injection point in Cush, Co. Kildare.

Cork County Council and An Bord Pleanála approved a second renewable gas injection facility in Mitchelstown in 2020.

Together, they can heat 75,000 homes while also supporting the decarbonisation of local agriculture.

Attendees heard that a domestic industry would also provide significant opportunities for local communities from:

  • The sale of biomethane;
  • Feedstock to produce renewable gas;
  • A bio-fertiliser that is a by-product of the process;
  • Facilitate sustainable circular economies, with businesses powering their operations via renewable gas made from their own waste.
Renewable Gas Registry

Gas Networks Ireland has established a Renewable Gas Registry to support developing an indigenous biomethane industry in Ireland. This records the volume of biomethane injected into the network each month and issues certificates to producers.

The registry facilitates producers in monetising the renewable value of their gas. It enables title tracking of the renewable value of biomethane in the network, guaranteeing that the equivalent amount of renewable gas has been injected into the gas network.

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