Fuelling the Future Sustainably: Ministers gather to launch a request for information from the agricultural and waste sector

Biomethane Request For Info 1

Two Stormont Ministers have come together with the Northern Ireland’s five Gas Network Operators (Phoenix Energy, firmus energy, Evolve, GNI (UK) and Mutual Energy), to support the production of biomethane using organic and agricultural waste streams. Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir, and Economy Minister, Conor Murphy, met with the Gas Network Operators at Stormont to launch a Request for Information to support the production of biomethane utilising organic and agricultural waste streams.

Biomethane is already widely used as a like-for-like carbon-neutral alternative to natural gas across Europe and is produced from sustainable feedstock such as underutilised silage, slurry and food waste. It can be injected into Northern Ireland’s modern gas network infrastructure, supporting local emission reduction targets by displacing fossil fuels.

Last year an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant at the Granville EcoPark near Dungannon became the first site on the island of Ireland to directly inject biomethane into the gas network, and the sector is now preparing to upscale the volumes of biomethane being injected into the local gas network. This followed a 2022 study by Queen’s University Belfast which demonstrated that in NI there is sufficient feedstock available to replace large volumes of the existing gas network demand.

Gas Network Operators have called on potential biomethane producers and current biogas producers who may be considering upgrading and repurposing their plants to produce and inject biomethane, to respond to this request for information. The GNOs have identified this information request as a key facilitator in preparing their plans to ensure the network can accommodate as much biomethane as possible.

Speaking at the launch of the Request for Information on behalf of the gas operators, Kailash Chada, Chief Executive of Phoenix Energy said,

This is an exciting time for the gas sector in Northern Ireland. In recent years we have seen the pace at which the Biomethane economy has developed across Europe and this particular request for information initiative will be key to unlocking the considerable potential that exists in NI, contributing to near term carbon budget targets and providing an increased self-sufficiency and sustainability to our local energy supplies.  

“We are delighted that Minister Muir and Minister Murphy are continuing to demonstrate the type of cross departmental collaboration that will be key to optimising the environmental, economic and social value that a Biomethane economy can create across a number of NI sectors.”

Conor Murphy, Minister for the Economy added, I welcome this Initiative by the gas network operators. Biomethane could have a significant role to play in reducing carbon emissions, a key priority in my economic vision.  In seeking to establish a policy framework which will support the development of a sustainable biomethane sector, it is important that we have a comprehensive picture of interest in developing AD biomethane facilities. I wish this project every success in helping to inform the Gas Network Operators and unlock the biomethane economy.

Andrew Muir, Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said, I am delighted to see the launch of this Request for Information. Biomethane production, if managed sustainably, provides a means for some of the more difficult to decarbonise sectors of our economy to accelerate their journey to Net Zero. It can help us improve the way we manage excess nutrients in our agriculture sector by encouraging the use of separated livestock slurry as a key feedstock for biomethane production through Anaerobic Digestion.”

To complete the Request for Information survey, please visit https://www.mutual-energy.com/news/biomethane/

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