AD and biomethane could be ‘huge’

Irish Examiner - Farming - - TECHNOLOGY FOCUS - Stephen Cado­gan

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.

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