There isn’t likely to be a support scheme for biomethane production in the short term.
The news came from the latest Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) webinar which profiled Green Generation ltd, a Kildare based company using anaerobic digestion to treat pig slurry and food waste.
During the webinar, IrBEA CEO Sean Finan shared details of a meeting between IrBEA and Minister for Transport, Environment, Climate and Communication Networks Eamon Ryan in January.
Ireland’s anaerobic digestion industry remains one of the most underdeveloped in Europe
When asked about developing a support scheme for biomethane (upgraded biogas) production, similar to other countries in Europe, no positive indication was given by the Minister that there was any interest in providing support in the short term.
The news will come as a big disappointment to Irish farmers, many of who wish to develop anaerobic digestion plants alongside their farm enterprise.
Ireland’s anaerobic digestion industry remains one of the most underdeveloped in Europe.
Lack of understanding
In the meeting, the Minister cited concerns with IrBEA regarding biodiversity, potential increased use of chemical fertiliser and further intensification of agriculture associated with a medium- to large-scale biomethane industry.
However, multiple reports including IrBEA’s Mobilising an Irish Biogas Industry with Policy and Action Report and the RGFI commissioned KPMG report An integrated business case for biomethane in Ireland directly addresses the Minister’s concerns.
Green Generation director Billy Costello invited Minister Ryan to visit his anaerobic digestion plant in Kildare to learn more
His comments show a lack of understanding at governmental level on the positive impacts of farm-based anaerobic digestion in Ireland.
This was reiterated by webinar panellist Teresa Patton, programme manager with Green Generation, who said that communication has failed the bio-economy in Ireland.
In an effort to address this, Green Generation director Billy Costello invited Minister Ryan to visit his anaerobic digestion plant in Kildare to learn more about the process.
Why does anaerobic digestion need support?
Developing an anaerobic digestion plant is a significant investment. From planning, to construction, to purchasing the necessary equipment, costs typically run into the millions. As a result, the cost of producing renewable gas is high and currently won’t compete with the price of natural gas.
Therefore, to allow a company to switch from using fossil fuel natural gas to renewable gas, a subsidy is required to bridge this cost gap.
While increasing carbon tax levels will help to bridge the gap naturally over the coming decade, support is required to stimulate the development of the industry in the short term.