Boost for anaer­o­bic di­ges­tion on farms

Irish Examiner - Farming - - FRONT PAGE - Stephen Cado­gan

A ma­jor re­new­able gas project is to be lo­cated at Mitchel­stown, Co Cork, be­cause of the lo­ca­tion’s huge po­ten­tial for gas from Anaer­o­bic Di­ges­tion (AD) plants on farms, fed by ma­te­ri­als such as grass, food waste, slurry and other farm wastes. Fund­ing for the project has been an­nounced by Gas Net­works Ire­land (GNI), which owns, op­er­ates, builds and main­tains the nat­u­ral gas net­work in Ire­land, sup­ply­ing 700,000 homes and busi­nesses. GNI con­firmed last week that this project, to be im­ple­mented be­tween 2019 and 2022, has been short­listed for €8m fund­ing from the govern­ment’s Cli­mate Ac­tion Fund. Called the Graze Gas project, it will pro­vide Ire­land’s first Cen­tral Grid In­jec­tion (CGI) fa­cil­ity for de­liv­er­ing re­new­able gas into the na­tional gas net­work.

Gas from AD plants will be trans­ported in spe­cial tankers to the CGI fa­cil­ity.

It is in­tended that the Mitchel­stown fa­cil­ity will be the first of 17 CGI fa­cil­i­ties, and that Graze Gas will even­tu­ally de­liver 8% of Ire­land’s res­i­den­tial gas de­mand, equiv­a­lent to de­mand from 56,000 homes. It is also planned to fund devel­op­ment of over 70 Com­pressed Nat­u­ral Gas (CNG) sta­tions by Gas Net­works Ire­land, to al­low op­er­a­tors of trucks and buses to switch from diesel to re­new­able gas.

The first two CNG sta­tions built will sup­port 74 CNG ve­hi­cles. Re­new­able gas from anaer­o­bic di­ges­tion is a di­rect sub­sti­tute for nat­u­ral gas, and can re­place heav­ily pol­lut­ing fu­els in power gen­er­a­tion, heat­ing and trans­port. Car­bon sav­ings from re­new­able gas from farm waste can be off­set against agri­cul­ture emis­sions, which are ris­ing due to ex­pan­sion of the dairy and beef in­dus­tries. Even­tual Graze Gas project re­duc­tion of car­bon emis­sions is es­ti­mated at 197,000 tonnes of car­bon diox­ide per an­num.

Re­new­able gas is be­lieved to be the most cost-ef­fec­tive way of de­car­bon­is­ing heat­ing of one mil­lion homes lo­cated near the gas net­work. The first re­new­able gas will come on to the Ir­ish gas net­work at the end of this year, from a fa­cil­ity in Cush, Co. Kil­dare.

It is es­ti­mated that full devel­op­ment of the re­new­able gas net­work will sup­port the cre­ation of 6,500 jobs, mainly in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. Cre­at­ing an indige­nous, re­li­able en­ergy source will also re­duce Ire­land’s use of im­ported fuel and sig­nif­i­cantly en­hance our en­ergy se­cu­rity, while help­ing Ire­land at­tain re­new­able en­ergy tar­gets.

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