Incentives and funding are needed to help achieve Ireland's national biomethane targets, according to centre director of the Dairy Processing Technology Centre Dr Anne Marie Henihan, who called on the Government to recognise the unique position of the Irish agri-food sector, which is both an enabler and beneficiary of biomethane production.

As the Government prepares to publish both the National Biomethane Strategy and launch the Renewable Heat Obligation Scheme (RHO), the Renewable Gas Forum of Ireland (RGFI) says there is an opportunity for the agri-food sector, which is a relatively tight-margin industry, to seek a multiplier on the credits from indigenous biomethane produced from agri feed stock.

RGFI is proposing a multiplier by a factor of at least two to incentivise and reward the agri-food sector.

The RHO will be implemented in 2024 and the RGFI's view is that the proposed target of 10% is too low and should be between 15% to 20% by 2030.

Speaking at the September RGFI members' meeting, board member Dr Henihan said that the agri-food sector enables the development of biomethane via the provision of sustainable agri feed stock and it benefits not only in terms of energy but also in delivering water quality, sustainable bio-fertiliser, community benefits and rural sustainable employment.

Competition

Members heard that the national biomethane target of 5.7TWh is achievable, with comparisons to the UK, France and Denmark, which have achieved similar acceleration of biomethane production.

In line with RGFI policy, KPMG emphasised the caveat that the industry must avoid competing with existing land uses and animal feed production.

Capital funding

While Minister McConalogue has accepted that capital funding for AD development is a requirement at a minimum level of 50%, the RGFI believes a higher level is necessary.

The groups state that the European Commission is open to relaxing the exemption threshold to accelerate biomethane development at the member state level.