HomeBussinessGas Networks Ireland weighs up domestic biomethane plan

Gas Networks Ireland weighs up domestic biomethane plan


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Gas Networks Ireland (GNI) is working on plans to buy Irish-produced renewable gas to meet some of its own needs, the State company has confirmed.

GNI’s confirmation of the plan comes as Irish player, Clonbio, calls for such a move to kick start the biomethane industry following the Government’s publication of a strategy for the sector.

The State company owns and operates the network that imports and transports gas to homes and industries around the country.

A GNI spokesman said the firm was working on a programme to meet its own gas needs from domestic renewable resources.

“Working in consultation with the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities [CRU], Gas Networks Ireland will be going to market and a formal process to procure biomethane will commence shortly,” he added.

The spokesman pointed out that using biomethane in place of fossil fuel gas would aid the Republic’s efforts to cut carbon dioxide and other emissions.

This is in line with the Government’s strategy and Climate Action Plan targets, he noted.

Government strategy aims to replace 10 per cent of the natural gas that the Republic uses with biomethane, made by processing farming and food waste.

GNI uses some of the natural gas that it imports, from the Corrib Field off the Mayo coast and via a pipeline connecting Ireland and Scotland, for its own energy needs, and to compensate for shrinkage, that is, small quantities of the fuel lost to the network.

A Department of Environment, Climate and Communications spokesman calculates that this came to 1.6 per cent of total Irish demand last year, making the company one of the fuel’s largest consumers.

Irish-based multinational Clonbio maintains that GNI could buy domestically produced biomethane to meet these needs.

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The group owns the Green Generation plant in Co Kildare, which supplies biomethane directly to the natural gas network.

James Cogan, Clonbio’s director of public affairs, said this week that GNI had the authority to buy biomethane from Irish producers at a price that made sense.

“Shrinkage gas would underwrite the construction of the first 30 or so new biomethane facilities, and the infrastructure to collect and distribute the gas,” he pointed out.

Mr Cogan was commenting on the Government’s biomethane strategy, published by Eamon Ryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, last week.

Irish biomethane production trails EU countries such as Denmark, despite having large quantities of the farming waste used to make the gas.

Government hopes its strategy will aid the construction of up to 200 biomethane production plants, called anaerobic digesters, in rural communities.

However, Mr Cogan warned that the plan would fail to lure more than a handful of producers to do this while “those early movers may not get their hoped-for results”.

The department’s spokesman confirmed that it was “engaging with GNI and the CRU” to review progress of the State company’s plans to meet some of its own needs from Irish-made biomethane.

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