Gas Networks Ireland outlines how decarbonising the gas network can reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions by one third
13:00 Wednesday October 23rd - Speaking at the inaugural Irish Gas Forum today, Denis O’Sullivan, Managing Director of Gas Networks Ireland, outlined how through a combination of technologies, Gas Networks Ireland can reduce Ireland’s overall CO2 emissions by a third.
While natural gas emits roughly one sixth of Ireland’s emissions, delivering on Gas Networks Ireland’s Vision 2050 plan will create a carbon neutral gas network and reduce Ireland’s total CO2 emissions by one third across key sectors including electricity, industry, heat, transport and agriculture. This will make a major contribution to getting Ireland back on track on to meet its emission reduction and renewable energy targets.
Ireland’s €2.6 billion gas network is one of the most modern and safe gas networks in the world with no capacity constraints, it can be used with minimal investment to facilitate renewable energies including renewable gas and hydrogen.
As an energy source, natural gas is of key strategic importance to Ireland, representing 30% of the country's primary energy mix. Natural gas also powers approximately 50% of Ireland’s electricity.
Mr O’Sullivan said that “gas and the gas network are in many cases the lowest cost option to decarbonise the transport, heating and agriculture sectors.”
‘’While Ireland has excellent renewable energy resources, the reality is that wind and solar alone will never meet Ireland’s energy demands. Renewable electricity is highly dependent on natural gas. Natural gas acts as a back-up and substitutes for renewable electricity to ensure that Ireland has a sustainable source of energy.”
“We have seen in the last month, times when the wind contribution to power generation was less than 1%. This is the reality, wind and gas are highly complementary. In the future, we can achieve a zero carbon source of electricity when powered by net zero carbon gas.”
Gas Networks Ireland’s vision is that by 2050 half of the gas on Ireland’s network will be renewable gas and hydrogen. The other half will be ‘abated gas’ where carbon dioxide has been removed through the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) process, preventing emissions from entering the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.
CCS separates carbon from industrial exhaust and injects it deep below the ground, so it cannot enter the atmosphere and contribute to climate change. According the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it would require drastic and unprecedented cuts in energy consumption to limit global warming rises to 1.5°c without CCS. The EU has indicated that the cost of decarbonising Europe’s power generation will be €1.2 trillion higher without CCS.
Mr O’Sullivan added that “CCS is a necessity, not an option.”
“We are committed to working with government and policy makers across all sectors, to ensure we maximise the contribution this state-owned asset can make in reducing Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions by one third while also ensuring we maintain a sustainable energy network in the least disruptive and most cost-effective way.”
To find out how Gas Networks Ireland’s Vision 2050 sets a clear pathway to a net carbon zero gas system by the year 2050 visit: gasnetworks.ie/vision2050
About Gas Networks Ireland
Gas Networks Ireland is the business division of Ervia that owns, builds and maintains the natural gas network in Ireland and connects all customers to the gas network. Gas Networks Ireland operates one of the most modern and safe gas networks in the world and ensures that over 700,000 homes and businesses receive a safe, efficient and secure supply of natural gas, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
About Renewable Gas
Renewable gas is a clean, sustainable and carbon neutral fuel for heat, electricity and transport. It works in the same way as natural gas, coming into homes and businesses through the existing gas infrastructure. Renewable gas is produced from agricultural and food waste. This is done through a process called Anaerobic Digestion (AD). The output gas is upgraded to natural gas standard and injected into the existing national gas network. The AD process also produces valuable bio-fertiliser which will displace imported fertilizers and lead to improved soil, water and air quality.
Ireland has the highest potential for renewable gas production per capita within the EU, according to a report by the European Commission. The development of an indigenous, reliable energy source will also significantly enhance energy security and reduce our use of imported fuel.
Renewable gas production can play a major role in reducing Ireland’s agricultural emissions problem and has the potential to support 4,500 rural jobs. Renewable gas has already been injected into the Irish gas network and the first major project is due to start construction in Mitchelstown, providing heat for 54,000 homes.
About Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
CNG is natural gas which has been compressed to fit into a Natural Gas Vehicle’s (NGV) tank and is particularly suitable for use in commercial vehicles. It is a proven alternative to diesel or petrol and reduces transport costs by up to 25% and carbon emissions by over a fifth. There are an estimated 25 million NGVs in operation worldwide, and almost two million in Europe.
CNG is the ideal fuel for decarbonising large Ireland’s commercial transport fleet which makes up just 3% of vehicles on the road, yet is responsible for approximately a fifth of transport’s emissions. Switching to CNG can reduce a Heavy Goods Vehicle’s (HGV), emissions by up to 22%. In the future, these vehicles can achieve zero carbon transport when operating on renewable gas. Gas Networks Ireland has a strategic plan to achieve 20% renewable gas on the network by 2030.
In August Gas Networks Ireland and Circle K, launched Ireland’s first publicly-accessible, fast-fill CNG station at Circle K’s Dublin Port premises. The project is co-financed by Gas Networks Ireland and the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility as part of Gas Network Ireland’s Causeway Project.
Compared to diesel, CNG delivers the following emissions savings:
|Emissions reduction||Up to 22% reduction on diesel|
|Nitrous oxide (NOx)||70% reduction in emissions|
|Sulphur dioxide (SOx)||80% reduction in emissions|
|Particulate matter||99% reduction in emissions|
The Causeway Project will see the formation of an initial national refuelling network together with renewable gas injection and the deployment of CNG vehicles. The delivery of 14 fast fill CNG stations will represent the first significant deployment of CNG refuelling infrastructure in Ireland. The provision of a renewable gas injection facility will play a significant role in delivering sustainable renewable gas to Irish gas customers in support of a sustainable indigenous energy source.
About Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a proven technology that captures up to 100% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by major industries and electricity generation. The captured CO2 is then conditioned, compressed, transported and stored permanently and safely deep underground. CCS prevents emissions from entering the atmosphere and causing climate change. Zero-carbon power generation from gas with CCS (abated gas) has the advantage of being completely reliable, making it the ideal long term partner for wind and solar energy
In September Ervia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with multinational energy company, Equinor, on assessing the potential for Ireland to benefit from Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).
Hydrogen fuel is a zero-emission fuel when burned with oxygen. It can be used in fuel cells or internal combustion engines to power electric vehicles or electric devices with no harmful emissions. Hydrogen can be deployed through the gas network, displacing conventional natural gas. Hydrogen is particularly interesting in an Irish context as it can also be produced using excess renewable energy. Hydrogen gas once created from wind or solar energy can be stored in the gas network, increasing our security of supply and reducing our emissions.