Gas Networks Ireland is expected to begin construction of Ireland’s first large-scale renewable gas injection facility next summer. The €30 million Green Renewable Agricultural Zero Emissions (GRAZE) project includes the construction of a central grid injection (CGI) facility in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork. The project is supported by more than €8.4 million in funding from the Climate Action Fund, as part of the Government’s National Energy Security Framework.
The new facility will receive and inject biomethane – a carbon neutral renewable gas made from farm and food waste through a process call anaerobic digestion – from up to 20 local farm-based producers. This biofuel, fully compatible with the existing national gas network, will seamlessly replace natural gas to reduce emissions in transport, heating, industry and power generation, while also supporting the decarbonization of the agri-food sector.
“This project shows how we can diversify our gas supplies, by speeding up the roll-out of renewable gases like biomethane. Projects such as this will reduce our reliance on imported fossil fuels, which is especially important now in the context of the war in Ukraine. The Government’s National Energy Security Framework, which sets out how Ireland is prepared to deal with potential shocks to our energy system, has highlighted the need for alternatives to natural gas, such as biomethane and hydrogen, to be developed to enhance Ireland’s security of supply and provide additional diversification for Ireland’s energy mix,” said the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD.
“It will contribute to our broader climate goals – of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 51% by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050,” he added. “This project, which champions sustainably-produced, carbon-neutral renewable gas, also exemplifies the principles of the circular economy. By recycling and re-using food and farm waste we can create cleaner energy – for electricity, heat and transport.”
“Ireland’s national gas network must be repurposed to transport renewable biomethane and hydrogen at scale,” said Gas Networks Ireland CEO, Cathal Marley. “Gas Networks Ireland is uniquely placed to deliver the necessary change, and with projects such as GRAZE, we’re already working hard to help deliver Ireland’s sustainable energy future.”
The GRAZE project is designed to showcase large-scale agricultural biomethane clusters that can be replicated in other locations throughout the State. “A domestic biomethane industry would not only support the decarbonization of the agricultural sector, but it would also provide significant opportunities for rural communities and facilitate sustainable circular economies, with businesses powering their operations via renewable gas made from their own waste,” explained Marley.
Planning permission for the Central Grid Injection facility has already been granted by An Bord Pleanála and Cork County Council.
The Climate Action Plan has set a target of 1.6 TWh of natural gas – around 3% of Ireland’s gas usage – to be replaced by biomethane by 2030. The EU Green Deal highlighted biomethane as a vital tool in decarbonizing European agriculture and energy systems, and the European Commission has identified Ireland as having the highest potential for biomethane production per capita in Europe – due in part to Ireland’s large agricultural sector.
Source: Gas Networks Ireland