There won’t be a problem in funding or supporting the anaerobic digestion (AD) sector, according to Green Party Minister of State Ossian Smyth.
In response to a question by the Irish Farmers Journal at Friday’s Energy Ireland Markets and Security Conference in Dublin, Minister Smyth said the Government made a pivotal change in policy around AD over the summer.
He said AD is a technology which is tried, tested and deployed in other jurisdictions and can leverage our agricultural infrastructure.
“It provides us with a degree of energy independence, but, also, its dispatchable power. So it gives us that guaranteed supply of energy for the times when the wind drops or the sun doesn’t shine,” he commented.
“It’s not an untested, future technology. It’s something that’s well understood and there won’t be a problem in the funding or support for it,” said Minister Smyth.
However, there was disappointment from other members of the panel discussion at the lack of support for the sector in Budget 2023.
David Kelly of Gas Networks Ireland said that, while the Government's commitment of 5.7TWh of biomethane by 2030 was positive, it was disappointing that there wasn’t more support announced in the budget.
While the imminent introduction of the Renewable Heat Obligation (RHO) is also positive, he didn’t think the policy alone would be enough to support the development of the industry.
He pointed to the success of the roll-out of biomethane in Denmark due to a government-backed feed-in tariff, which has been running for seven years now.
“It [the tariff] gives the type of certainty for investors to really get in behind,” he said.
This sentiment was echoed by Russell Smyth of KPMG, who has extensive experience in financing the biogas industry in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
He said that while the Government has been very sluggish in its support for biomethane, the mood is definitely changing and there is considerable interest in the sector at investor level.
However, when asked about the RHO as a support policy, he had his doubts.
“The RHO is the best option that seems to be on the table, but it’s far from perfect, as it does not provide long-term price certainty, so it is a question mark as to whether investors are going to get behind it,” he said.