AD and biomethane could be ‘huge’
Anaerobic digestion and biomethane offer huge potential to agriculture, the energy sector and Ireland as a whole, said Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten a t th e r e c e n t B i om e t ha ne S t a ke h o l d e r E n g a g e m e n t Workshop in Dublin.
H e s a i d i t re p r e s e n t s a reserve of domestic renewable energy which up to now has remained almost untapped, and of fers a tremendous opportunity for Ireland to displace impor ted fossil fuels with local jobs and opportunities for Irish business.
“In 2016, Ireland relied on imported energy to meet over 69% of our energy needs. The majority of these imports are fossil fuels, and this costs the e c o n o m y a l mo s t € 4 0 0 , 0 0 0 every hour.”
He said Ireland also urgently needs to make progre s s to wa r d s i t s t a r g e t s of 16% r en ew a b le e n e r g y b y 2020, including 12% of heating needs. “In 2016, we were just over half way to meeting that target.” Anaerobic digestion ( AD) plants take in waste animal products including slur ry, meat products, waste food, silage etc. The gas produced in an AD plant may be used to produce electricity, through a c o m b i n e d h e a t a nd p ow e r unit, or may be used to supply “green gas” ( biomethane) to the gas network. Mr Naughten said the suppor t scheme for renewable heat which will be launched later this year will provide the b a s i s fo r n e w co mm er c i al opportunities for farmers in h e a t t e ch n o l o g i e s s u c h as biomass boiler installations and anaerobic digesters, in its first phase.
He said:“Biomethane has many advantages: a boost to meeting our renewable targets, an improvement in our trade balance, an increase in our energy security, and the capability to provide an outlet for our abundant farm and food wastes.
“We p r o d u c e e n o r m o u s amounts of food waste in Ireland, two tonnes a minute. This needs to be reduced, but wh e re ab s ol u t e ly un avoi dable, it should be a resource.”
Silage is one of the raw materials used in anaerobic digestion to produce electricity or biomethane.