An indigenous Irish green gas – or biomethane – industry could save Ireland up to 2.6m tonnes of CO2 a year and potentially create 3,000 new jobs.

 

That’s the thesis of a new research report conducted by KPMG with industry, gas consumers and the agricultural sector.

It concludes there is a compelling business for the establishment of an indigenous industry based on gas produced from agricultural waste.

“The supply of renewable biomethane is essential to Danone Ireland in the context of the reduction of reliance on fossil fuels”

Such an industry could enable diversification and stimulation of the rural economy and generate up to 3,000 jobs.

The KPMG Report was presented to Government this week by the Renewable Gas Forum of Ireland (RGFI) which called for a clear national policy commitment to developing a long-term sustainable biomethane industry on a phased basis from 2020, which it says will support Ireland’s decarbonisation objectives and boost the rural economy.

Specifically, it said such a strategy would complement the Government’s decarbonisation policy – saving 2.6m tonnes of CO2 pa by 2030.

It cited the potential for significant decarbonisation of heat across residential, commercial and agricultural sectors, in particular more than 670,000 homes and 27,000 businesses located on or close to existing gas networks.

This would reduce Ireland’s reliance on fossil fuel-based energy imports and improve Ireland’s security of energy supply and storage.

2050 vision

“Ireland can save 2.6m tonnes of CO2 per annum, supporting our decarbonisation targets and creating over 3000 jobs for rural Ireland by 2030” said PJ McCarthy, chair of RGFI.

KPMG said that in order to realise this vision, approximately 227 agri-led anaerobic digestor (AD) plants, along with a number of larger food and commercial waste plants will need to be built by 2030, requiring a capital investment of c€1.5bn, supported by appropriate Government support.

The proposed ramp-up is in line with Northern Ireland where around 60 AD plants were built in the first five years of the industry being developed.

Gas Network Ireland has outlined its support for renewable gas and its ambition to invest in a network of gas injection points and related infrastructure to support the growth of the sector.

“A scalable phased deployment, localised commercial model and dedicated funding is recommended to support a growing and maturing AD biomethane industry,” said Russell Smyth, Partner, KPMG.

“If implemented, an agricultural industry led biomethane sector has the ability to align with a large number of Government policies and objectives including decarbonisation, the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development, the Nitrates Action Plan and DAFM’s Code of Good Agricultural Practice.”

Within the food and pharma industries, renewable gas biomethane is the only viable and available alternative for many businesses to decarbonise their processes without impacting their overall operations.

“As a user of natural gas, we can make an immediate switch to biomethane, which would deliver our environmental and climate benefit targets at lowest cost with least disruption,” said Donal Dennehy, director of Danone Ireland.

“The supply of renewable biomethane is essential to Danone Ireland in the context of the reduction of reliance on fossil fuels, GHG emissions mitigation, competitiveness and improvement in the sustainability of our processing and products.”

Pictured above (from left): Donal Dennehy, operations director, Damone Ireland with Russell Smyth, partner, KPMG and Ian Kilgallon of GNI. Photo: Jason Clarke Photography

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Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 22 October, 2019

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