Agriculture is of vital importance for Ireland but the sector is the source of 33% of Ireland's emissions. Decarbonising agriculture is challenging. Developing a biomethane industry in Ireland can deliver on-farm emissions savings and support local communities.
A pathway to decarbonise agriculture by 2050
Agriculture accounts for 33% of Ireland’s total emissions. Equal to 20Mt CO₂
The value of the Agriculture and Agri-food sector to Ireland.
Manure and slurry spreading and open storage release methane emissions. Methane is 28-36 times more harmful than CO2 in terms of its global warming potential. Since the elimination of the milk quota system in 2015, the dairy industry has seen substantial growth. This heightens the challenge in terms of reducing agricultural emissions.
Why renewable gas?
Why renewable gas and the gas network provide a smart solution to decarbonising agriculture.
Biomethane is a key component of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, which aims to reduce the environmental and climate impact of primary food production. The EU Green Deal also highlighted biomethane as a vital tool in decarbonising European agriculture and energy systems.
According to a report produced by KPMG and Devinish, agriculturally produced biomethane can be delivered sustainably and at scale to help reduce on-farm emissions and decarbonise Ireland’s energy system without reducing the national herd, disrupting food production, intensifying agricultural activities or impacting on biodiversity.
The use of grass and slurry in biomethane production can reduce emissions, including methane, by supporting better land and slurry management practices.
Our vision to decarbonise agriculture
Develop renewable gas injection points
Develop a network of dedicated renewable gas injection points along the gas network to facilitate the injection of biomethane into the national gas network. Direct Grid Injection (DGI) facilities can be located on-farm for larger producers to inject directly into the network while Central Grid Injection (CGI) facilities can be strategically located to receive biomethane transported from a number of smaller producers.
Facilitate sustainable circular economies
Biomethane can be produced from a mix of farm and food waste. Food and beverage companies can purchase meat and dairy from farmers, supply their waste back for use in biomethane production, and then purchase biomethane to power their operations.
What we are doing
We opened Ireland’s first renewable gas injection point opened in Cush, Co. Kildare, in 2019. While there are currently only small volumes entering the gas network, the entry point has the potential to supply gas to up to 9,000 homes. In 2021 we received planning permission for a second renewable gas injection point in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, which the potential to supply gas to 64,000 homes. We are continuing to work with Teagasc, researchers and other key stakeholders to develop plans for a biomethane industry in partnership with farmers and rural communities.
In October 2021 we published a ‘Sustainability of Biomethane Production in Ireland’ report undertaken by Devenish Nutrition and KPMG Sustainable Futures, which drew on existing academic research, as well as data and on-farm experience from the Dowth Research Farm in Co. Meath. The report concluded that agriculturally produced biomethane can be delivered sustainably and at scale to help reduce on-farm emissions and decarbonise Ireland’s energy system without reducing the national herd, disrupting food production, intensifying agricultural activities or impacting on biodiversity.
We developed a Green Gas Certification (GGC) scheme for Ireland in partnership with other Irish and European agencies to support the growth of a renewable gas market in Ireland.
Develop policies and roadmap
To successfully develop Ireland’s biomethane industry, a detailed policy roadmap will be required to set out specific measures. Policies and supports must be developed to progress the decarbonisation of agriculture through anaerobic digestion and biomethane.
Develop an industry standard for bio-fertiliser
An industry standard for the use of the bio-fertiliser by-product of anaerobic digestion must be developed in order to ensure its uptake by farmers. The use of bio-fertiliser will further reduce on-farm emissions and improve the emissions savings associated with biomethane.
Whole system carbon accounting for Ireland
The emissions reductions that can be counted from biomethane are limited by the EU. Further emissions reductions arising from better land use management and use of bio-fertiliser can be sought by EU member states. As Ireland’s biomethane industry develops, these additional savings must be measured and demonstrated in order to obtain the full benefit of emissions savings associated with biomethane.