First step in decarbonising Ireland's gas network
Gas Networks Ireland has confirmed that locally produced renewable gas has been successfully injected into Ireland’s gas network for the first time. The renewable gas enters the network at Ireland’s only purpose built injection facility in Cush Co. Kildare and represents the first step in Gas Networks Ireland’s plan to roll out a network of renewable gas injection facilities across the country.
The planning application for a second gas injection facility, in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, has been submitted to Cork County Council. This large-scale central grid injection facility is part of Gas Networks Ireland’s GRAZE (Green Renewable Agricultural & Zero Emissions) gas project. The project is valued at €28 million, with €8.5 million in grant funding support from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment’s Climate Action Fund.
The Mitchelstown facility will have the capacity to support up to 20 farm-based agri-anaerobic digestion biomethane plants within a 50 km radius. Once operational, renewable gas will be sourced from local farms and will provide enough energy to heat 54,000 homes.
Managing Director of Gas Networks Ireland, Denis O’Sullivan says, “Ireland’s challenge is to de-carbonise 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 hydrogen.”
“We envisage that renewable gas will contribute 20% of the total gas demand by 2030 equating to 11.5 TWh of renewable gas, sufficient to decarbonise the heating needs of one million homes.”
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. 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.
O’Sullivan continues, “We welcome the government recognising the potential and opportunity for renewable gas in the residential market. Production of 20% renewable gas by 2030 would create over 4,000 jobs, mostly in rural communities, and help Government achieve its carbon emissions targets by reducing Ireland’s CO2 emissions by 5.7%.”
“As with the production of all renewable energy, renewable gas requires a support mechanism in the form of a guaranteed market price (Feed-in Tariff). Gas Networks Ireland strongly advocates policy support from Government to enable such a measure.”
“With essential policy support, renewable gas will be developed by communities and co-operatives all over Ireland. It will be an indigenous fuel source which will give us additional energy security.”
Notes to editor
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. Ervia is a commercial semi-state multi-utility company with responsibility for the delivery of gas and water infrastructure and services in Ireland.
About renewable gas:
Renewable gas is produced through a process called anaerobic digestion (AD). The gas is identical in composition and use as natural gas, but is produced using entirely renewable processes. The main feedstocks for renewable gas are animal waste, municipal waste and plant materials. The use of animal waste in particular, has a benefit in reducing the emissions from Ireland’s rapidly expanding dairy and beef industries. 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, displacing €280 Million in annual fuel imports.
A 2018 KPMG report indicated that using renewable gas is the most cost-effective way of decarbonizing the heating of the 1 million homes located on or close to the existing gas network. This demonstrates that the marginal abatement cost of renewable gas is far lower than what is currently stated in the Climate Action Plan, which is why Gas Networks Ireland is working with Government to revise this in the plan.