[19 May 2022] Renewable Gas Forum Ireland CEO, PJ McCarthy, today welcomed the European Commission’s RePowerEU policy announcement as a decisive step towards the rapid development of the AD biomethane sector in Ireland and throughout Europe. The new EU target for biomethane of 35 billion cubic metres (bcm) (350TWh) by 2030, offers tremendous environmental, economic and social benefits for Ireland – as underpinned by recent RGFI feasibility studies, including a REGATRACE report to be published 1 June.
In the past 12 months, RGFI, through its Board membership of the European Biogas Association (EBA), has been advocating for a scale-up of biomethane to 350 TWh by 2030, which equals 35bcm. RGFI and EBA are working closely and collaborating with the Commission to fulfil this new target.
“The sector is set to deploy 35 bcm of sustainable biomethane by 2030, including 3.5 bcm more by the end of this year. By doing this, we would replace 20% of the current gas imports coming from Russia. The increase in biomethane production will also help us reduce waste, increase food security, and support the transition to agroecology in our farms and sustainable food production. The biomethane industry in Ireland is scalable and is preparing to invest up to €1.8 billion over the coming decade. There are plans to develop up to 125 anaerobic digester plants by 2030 with the RHO scheme implemented by 2023 , which could deliver up to 2.5 terawatt-hours (TWh) of biomethane by 2030 ”.
Ireland is well placed in relation to sustainable agriculture feedstock – such as multispecies swards. Teagasc has confirmed the availability of 2 -4m tonnes feedstock per annum and both RGFI and Teagasc would like to see 2 to 3% of this available as a backstop in the event of fodder shortage. While Government has made commitments in both the NPD and Climate Action Plan 2021 to include and escalate the role of AD biomethane and targets, what is now required is policy support across planning , matching funding, and the announcement of the Renewable Heat Obligation scheme RHO”, said Mr McCarthy.
On 1 June RGFI, as part of a European project (REGATRACE) will publish the vision and roadmap for renewable gas in Ireland – reflecting input from key renewable gas stakeholders (including industry, academia, government, and national farming organisations). RGFI is the lead partner for REGATRACE in Ireland, a pan European project that commenced in 2019 to develop the vision and roadmap for renewable gas in key EU member states.
For Irish farmers and the manufacturing and processing sector, this will assist in decarbonising the agri supply chain – further supporting the global marketing of sustainable Irish food and drinks products. A sustainable, agri feedstock-based AD biomethane industry in Ireland will also enable and achieve the following.
- Security of energy supply, storage, and stable energy pricing
- Support commercial sustainability and competitiveness
- Animal slurry management and removal of potential Nitrates Directive limitations / derogations.
- Improved soil quality and productivity.
- delivering improved air, and water, quality.
- secure supply of organic fertilisers from AD and reduced chemical fertiliser and herbicide reliance.
- opportunity to earn a guaranteed diverse income from the implementation of improved farm practicesland management practices:
- other complementary farm incomes providing rural investment and income diversification