Some €30m will be invested in large-scale biomethane renewable gas injection facility in Cork by Gas Networks Ireland, the company’s chief executive officer Cathal Marley has confirmed.
The Green Renewable Agricultural Zero Emissions (GRAZE) renewable gas project will receive and inject biomethane from up to 20 local farm-based producers.
At maximum capacity, the facility will inject enough biomethane to meet the requirements of up to 64,000 homes.
Biomethane is a carbon-neutral renewable gas made from farm and food waste through a process call anaerobic digestion.
Farmers heating homes
GRAZE will include the construction of a central grid injection (CGI) facility in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, and the biomethane it injects into the national grid will be fully compatible with the existing national gas network, appliances, technologies and vehicles, and will seamlessly replace natural gas to reduce emissions in heating, industry, transport and power generation.
Gas Networks Ireland says it will also support the decarbonisation of the agri-food sector.
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan TD confirmed that the project will receive €8.4m in funding under the Climate Action Fund, administered by his Department.
“This project shows how we can diversify our gas supplies, by speeding up the rollout 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.
“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 said.
Co-op style gas industry
The Green Party leader said that “by recycling and re-using food and farm waste”, the project will “create cleaner energy for electricity, heat and transport”.
He said the GRAZE project is “aimed at creating a new co-op style, sustainable farm-based renewable gas industry in the region”.
Cathal Marley said the project is designed to demonstrate how such biomethane initiatives can be “replicated in other locations throughout the State”.
The Gas Networks Ireland CEO said nationwide investment of this kind will create up to 6,500 new jobs, mainly in rural Ireland, and provide new income opportunities for local communities from the sale of biomethane, feedstock used to produce the renewable gas and also a highly effective organic bio-fertiliser digestate that is a byproduct of the process.
“A domestic biomethane industry would not only support the decarbonisation 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,” he said.
Planning permission for the CGI facility has already been granted by An Bord Pleanála and Cork County Council, and construction is expected to get under way next year.