The Future of Renewable Gas in Ireland

Renewable Gas, often referred to as biomethane, is a clean, renewable and carbon neutral fuel. Its potential as a renewable fuel for heat, electricity and transport is well-recognised in response to the EU’s commitment to becoming a highly energy-efficient, low carbon economy. Gas Networks Ireland recognises biomethane as a renewable fuel which can significantly improve the sustainability of the natural gas network and reduce dependency on imported natural gas.

The future of renewable gas in Ireland

Ireland has the highest potential for Renewable Gas production per capita in Europe with a potential of 13 TWh achievable by 2030, an EU Commissioned report has found. 

EU Commission report showing the potential of biogas/ Renewable Gas

Gas Networks Ireland (GNI) has a strategic plan to achieve 20% Renewable Gas on the network by 2030 which is equal to circa 11.6 TWh of Renewable Gas.  This figure is supported by independent reports by the EU Commission and the SEAI.  To achieve this level of Renewable Gas, GNI is focusing on supporting anaerobic digestion (AD) with separate initiatives for the agriculture sector and the commercial waste industry sector.  

Agri-AD:  It is forecast that up to 9.8 TWh per annum of renewable gas can be delivered from the agriculture sector by 2030.  Agri-based AD will be supported on the basis that biogas is purified to Natural Gas standard at the AD site, ready for collection. GNI in conjunction with other industry stakeholders intends to invest in the Renewable Gas collection logistics and Central Grid Injection (CGI) facilities located on the gas transmission network where Renewable Gas quality will be verified and the grid injection process will be managed and metered.  The CGI facilities are designed to operate as gas Entry Points on the network where Gas Shippers can register capacity and transact gas into the system for delivery to their gas customers in the heat, power and transport sectors.  
GHG emissions from Agriculture represents over 35% of national emissions and are expected to increase further due to a projected increase in dairy cow numbers and proposals to increase food production and exports, as set out in Food Harvest 2020.  Ireland needs to sustainably address GHG emissions from agriculture, which could threaten the ‘Origin Green’ sustainability status of Ireland’s food and drink production internationally.  The food and beverage production processes contribute a further 13% to national emissions and these industries are largely dependent on gas as their primary energy source.  The initiative to establish Renewable Gas production from Agri-AD represents a significant opportunity to decarbonise agriculture and the agri-food supply chain, while also providing the opportunity for the farmers to diversify, and enhancing Irelands security of supply.  
Waste Industry AD:  It is forecast that up to 1.8 TWh per annum of renewable gas can be delivered from the commercial waste processing sector by 2030.  These facilities will be accommodated to connect directly to the gas network in line with a new Connection Policy to be published for Q4 2018.  These facilities are also designed to operate as a gas Entry Point on the network on the same basis as the CGI facilities.
Targets & Benefits: In June 2018, KPMG published a study on behalf of Ervia, titled Decarbonising Domestic Heating in Ireland.  The study highlighted how the advent of renewable gas has a profound impact on the challenge of decarbonising domestic heating.  The study demonstrates how the displacement of natural gas supply with carbon neutral gas can deliver complete decarbonisation of domestic heating for 1 million households (those on or within immediate access to the gas network) at less than 1/3 of the cost of complete deep retrofit and heat pump technology - 

KPMG Irish Gas Pathways Report 2018

Renewable Gas development in Europe

Across Europe, member states added 4.9 TWh of Renewable Gas in 2016 and this figure is set to increase significantly in the coming years.  France have introduced a national strategy backed by legislation mandating 10% Renewable Gas by 2030 which is resulting in the installation of injection facilities at a rate of one every two weeks.  6 European gas network operators have now set a target of 100% Renewable Gas consumption in their networks by 2050. 

Why Renewable Gas?

For Ireland:

  • Assists national targets for emissions reduction in the Agriculture, Waste, Energy and Transport sectors
  • Increased employment for rural communities, diversification of farm incomes and community cooperative opportunities
  • A key enabler to Foreign Direct Investment attraction and retention
  • Minimal additional hard infrastructure roll out due to use of existing gas grid
  • Low cost choice to decarbonising Irelands heating and cooling sector (1/3 Cost of Electrification alone)
  • Increases Ireland’s energy security, displacing dependence on imported fossil fuels

For the Customer: 

  • A Renewable and Sustainable source of energy
  • An existing route to market through the national Gas Network 
  • No change to end user equipment  

Getting Connected?

The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) have recently published their decision on the proposed Renewable Gas Connection Policy. Gas Networks Ireland are now tasked with implementing this decision and expect to have a formal connection process for industry operational before the end of the year.  For more details on this and any initial enquiries please contact