The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine is set to discuss the production of biomethane renewable energy with stakeholders today, Wednesday, May 3rd. Committee Cathaoirleach Jackie Cahill has said that the development of biomethane energy generation can play a “key part” in ensuring that the Irish agriculture sector meets its carbon reduction targets. He added that the production of biomethane renewable energy can offer significant benefits for Ireland, including its contribution to national energy security. Biomethane production also offers additional income streams to farm families and ensures that farmers play their part in the decarbonisation of heating and electricity generation.
Representatives from Gas Networks Ireland (GNI), the Irish BioEnergy Association (irBEA), Biocore Environmental, the Renewable Gas Forum Ireland and Teagasc will speak at the meeting. The Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine is comprised of nine members from the Dáil and five from the Seanad. The meeting in committee room three can be viewed live on Oireachtas TV.
According to the irBEA, while the biomethane sector is “booming” across Europe, its potential in Ireland has not been realised, with only around 20 anaerobic digestion (AD) plants in operation nationwide. Ireland imports almost 75% of its gas from the UK via interconnectors with Scotland, while the remaining 25% are indigenous supplies from the Corrib gas field in Mayo, according to GNI. However, as the Corrib gas field depletes, this dependency on imported natural gas is expected to rise to 90% by 2030, GNI said in a statement provided to the committee.
At present, the national gas network transports 99% natural gas and just under 1% biomethane from GNI’s injection facility in Co. Kildare, according to the statement. Natural gas is completely interchangeable, requiring no investment from the end user, GNI said. Data from biomethane producers show that around 20% of natural gas could be replaced on the national network. Under the Climate Action Plan 2023, Ireland has increased the target for AD to 5.7TWh biomethane by 2030. This will require around 150-200 AD plants, according to Teagasc.
The production of biomethane renewable energy is a significant issue for Ireland, not only in terms of meeting carbon reduction targets, but also in relation to national energy security. The fact that the country imports almost 75% of its gas from the UK, with the remaining 25% supplied by the Corrib gas field in Mayo, highlights the need for greater domestic production of energy.
Currently, only around 20 anaerobic digestion (AD) plants are in operation nationwide, meaning that the potential of the biomethane sector in Ireland has not been realised. However, data from biomethane producers indicate that around 20% of natural gas could be replaced on the national network. This presents a significant opportunity for the sector to grow and contribute to Ireland’s energy needs.
Under the Climate Action Plan 2023, Ireland has set a target of producing 5.7TWh biomethane by 2030. Achieving this target will require the establishment of around 150-200 AD plants, according to Teagasc. The benefits of such a move would be significant, including additional income streams for farm families and a reduction in carbon emissions. The meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine today will be an important step in realising the potential of the biomethane sector in Ireland.