Gas Networks Ireland has for the first time injected farm-produced biomethane into its national network at a site in Co Kildare and has just applied for planning permission for a second injection point in North Cork.
The renewable gas entered the network at Ireland’s first purpose-built injection facility in Cush Co Kildare within the last few days.
It represents the first step in Gas Networks Ireland’s €28m plan to roll out a network of renewable gas injection facilities across the country.
The company has just lodged a planning application for another injection point in Mitchelstown with Cork County Council.
When commissioned, the Mitchelstown facility will have the capacity to support up to 20 farm-based agri-anaerobic digestion biomethane plants within a 50 km radius of the town.
The general Mitchelstown area has a very high concentration of large pig and cattle farms. Once operational, renewable gas will be sourced from local farms and the Mitchelstown injection point will provide enough energy to heat 54,000 homes.
It forms part of Gas Networks Ireland’s GRAZE (Green Renewable Agricultural & Zero Emissions) project, which has received €8.5m in funding support from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment’s Climate Action Fund.
Renewable gas, often referred to as biomethane, is a clean, renewable and carbon-neutral fuel.
Denis O’Sullivan, managing director of Gas Networks Ireland, said Ireland's challenge is to decarbonise in the most efficient way possible. "Renewable gas is a key pillar in our plan to fully decarbonise the gas network by 2050 through a combination of renewable gas, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and the use of hydrogen," Mr O'Sullivan said.
He said it's envisaged that renewable gas will contribute 20% of the total gas demand in the country by 2030 and this will be sufficient to decarbonise the heating needs of one million homes.
Mr O'Sullivan said its biomethane's potential as a renewable fuel for heat, electricity and transport is well-recognised and its use is in response to the EU’s commitment to becoming a highly energy-efficient, low carbon economy.
It can replace heavily-polluting fossil fuels such as coal, oil and peat and is a direct substitute for natural gas, without the need to invest in alternative infrastructure.
The recently published Climate Action Plan outlines the government’s commitment to set a target for renewable gas on the network by 2030 before the end of the year and to investigate the supports required to fund meeting this target.
The plan also calls for an increase in the number of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) refuelling stations which will utilise renewable gas to provide a carbon-neutral fuel to the transport sector.
“We welcome the government recognising the potential and opportunity for renewable gas in the residential market," Mr O'Sullivan said.
He said providing a fifth of the country's needs in renewable gas by 2030 would create over 4,000 jobs, mostly in rural communities, and help the government achieve its carbon emissions targets by reducing Ireland’s CO2 emissions by 5.7%.