Project Clover is a collaboration of leading agri-food companies, that have declared their commitment to large scale, biomethane production on Irish farms, as the only commercially feasible and technically proven, means of decarbonising the Irish food supply chain.
The Project Clover vision uses indigenous AD biomethane to decarbonise thermal heat processes, commercialises its by-product digestate to produce organic fertiliser, and monetises soil carbon sequestration on Irish farms.
Project Clover members are of the view that Ireland’s lack of an indigenous biomethane industry will limit Ireland’s decarbonisation ambitions under the national Climate Action Plan. They are also concerned that, with biomethane available in many other jurisdictions, the Irish food industry’s international competitiveness will be harmed, and FDI impacted.
Commercial and environmental sustainability study
In 2020 /21 the CEOs of the Project Clover collaboration, led by Danone, along with Wyeth Nutrition, Glanbia Ireland, Dairygold, Carbery, Lakeland Dairies and Tipperary Co-op, commissioned KPMG, with RGFI co-ordination, to examine the commercial and environmental sustainability of agri-based biomethane and biofertiliser production.
The KPMG Project Clover Feasibility Study, produced in October 2021, has shown how a farmer based, renewable gas industry, underpinned by a Charter to ensure environmental sustainability will:
- assist in decarbonising the full supply chain, addressing scope 3 emissions
- solve issues of slurry management, while producing organic fertilisers to displace artificial fertilisers, which will improve water and air quality and soil structure
- generate additional revenue streams to support on-farm sustainability, without reducing the national herd or disrupting food production
- support commercial sustainability and competitiveness of the Irish food and drinks industry
- create and sustain 3,000 jobs across rural Ireland
The Report outlines the industry proposition to displace over 680kt CO2 per annum by 2030, as a conservative estimate.
Additional revenue streams through commercialising bio-fertilisers, are realistic and achievable.
Monetising carbon sequestration is considered to be worth pursuing in the longer term. Both require further work in Phase II.
Further work by KPMG / Devenish, commissioned by Gas Networks Ireland, on the sustainability of biomethane production in Ireland, shows that the full potential of biomethane to reduce CO2 emissions is over 1.9million tonnes per annum, at maximum potential production of 9.5TWh. This is based on improved efficiency across land already in agricultural production, using mixed species swards and the application of digestate. The work indicates that replacing all nitrogen use with digestate and growing multi-species swards on dairy farms, could reduce on-farm emissions by 66%, or 9.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per farm.
The ask of government
Project Clover and RGFI are urging government to fully embrace renewable gas now, to ensure that this decarbonisation opportunity is not lost, and to reduce risk to the commercial sustainability and competitiveness of the Irish food industry, and to FDI.
Specific Government action required:
- Capital Funding of 50% to match and complement the ISIF funding, subject to commercial loan terms and conditions.
- The early implementation of Article 23, which requires suppliers to socialise the cost through a renewable heat fuel obligation scheme.
‘Sustainability of Biomethane Production in Ireland – Exploring how Ireland can deliver a sustainable, agriculture-led biomethane industry’ KPMG / Devenish, 2o21
A Business Case for Biomethane in Ireland, KPMG, 2019