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Biogas can address Ireland’s declared climate emergency – trades bodies

The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) and Composting and Anaerobic Digestion Association of Ireland (Cré) have recently launched a joint policy document calling for a biogas support scheme. The document provides the Irish government with an industry roadmap for the roll-out of a "meaningful" Irish biogas industry and addresses the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action call for an Anaerobic Digestion strategy as well as the government Climate Action Plan action on biomethane.

Pictured at the launch of the joint Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) and Composting and Anaerobic Digestion Association of Ireland (Cré) policy document on a biogas support scheme titled “Mobilising an Irish Biogas Industry with Policy and Action” were Percy Foster (left) CEO of Cré and Seán Finan CEO of IrBEA (photo courtesy IrBEA).

Titled “Mobilising an Irish Biogas Industry with Policy and Action”, the document was developed following consultation with members and key stakeholders in the sector. According to the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) and Composting and Anaerobic Digestion Association of Ireland (Cré), it sets out a roadmap for how the government target of 1.6 TWh of biomethane, approximately 200 MW installed capacity, by 2030 can be achieved on a phased basis over the next number of years.

Industry roadmap

The document provides the Irish government with an industry roadmap for the roll-out of a “meaningful” Irish biogas industry and addresses the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action call for a strategy to be developed for anaerobic digestion (AD) and also the Government Climate Action Plan action on biomethane injection.

This policy document articulates a vision from the industry and outlines the key principles which will need to be followed for the growth and development of a successful Irish biogas industry.

Our vision is for the Irish biogas industry to be developed on a phased basis to achieve the government climate action plan target of 1.6 TWh of biomethane injection by 2030 or before. A biogas support scheme will be required to bridge the cost gap between the current cost of production of biogas and the current sale price of fossil gas. In the short term, we would like to see an initial phase of 65 MW of biomethane funded by the government. The initial 65 MW can be achieved by 25 medium to large scale biogas plants which are strategically located across the county and close to the gas grid. The initial phase would deliver 400 jobs and abate 500 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) with a biogas support scheme costing EUR 40 million, said Seán Finan, CEO, IrBEA.

The joint document clearly articulates that a whole of government approach is required to funds the biogas support scheme required. A number of funding options are available and should be explored. An Irish biogas industry will deliver significant benefits to the country across at least seven different government departments.

Some of the different government funding options available include the introduction of a PSO levy on fossil gas, a financial contribution from all of the different government departments that can realise a benefit from the industry creating a whole of government fund or ringfencing some of the carbon tax budget.

We are delighted to have worked closely with our colleagues in IrBEA in producing this joint policy document. We firmly believe a phased approach in developing a sustainable biogas sector is the way forward. Our document outlines in detail the many significant benefits Biogas has, which go unrecognised by many key stakeholders. It helps meet renewable energy targets, diversification for farmers, creates local jobs, reduces the need for chemical fertilisers and the avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions are just a few examples, said Percy Foster, CEO of Cré.

Both trade bodies conclude that policy and action are required now from the government to ensure this industry develops in Ireland which is mainstream in many other European countries for many years.

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