€30m renewable gas facility to be built in Mitchelstown

Ireland’s first large-scale renewable gas injection facility will power up to 64,000 homes with gas made from farm and food waste 
€30m renewable gas facility to be built in Mitchelstown

Construction is expected to begin next summer on a €30m renewable gas facility in Cork, which has the potential to power up to 64,000 homes with gas made from farm and food waste. 

Construction is expected to begin next summer on a €30m renewable gas facility in Cork, which has the potential to power up to 64,000 homes with gas made from farm and food waste. 

Gas Networks Ireland is expected to begin construction of Ireland’s first large-scale renewable gas injection facility next summer. The €30 million Green Renewable Agricultural Zero Emissions (GRAZE) renewable gas project includes the construction of a central grid injection (CGI) facility in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork.

The new facility will receive and inject biomethane – a carbon neutral renewable gas made from farm and food waste through a process called anaerobic digestion – from up to 20 local farm-based producers.

Led by Gas Networks Ireland, the GRAZE project is supported by more than €8.4 million in funding from the Climate Action Fund, as part of the Government’s National Energy Security Framework.

Planning permission for the Central Grid Injection facility has already been granted by An Bord Pleanála and Cork County Council, and construction is expected to get underway next year.

The renewable gas injection facility will be the centrepiece of the project, which is aimed at creating a new co-op style, sustainable farm-based renewable gas industry in the region.

Biomethane is fully compatible with the existing national gas network, appliances, technologies and vehicles, and will seamlessly replace natural gas to reduce emissions in heating, industry, transport and power generation, while also supporting the decarbonisation of the agri-food sector.

At maximum capacity, the facility will inject enough biomethane to meet the requirements of up to 64,000 homes.

Gas Networks Ireland Chief Executive Cathal Marley said that projects such as GRAZE will help to “deliver Ireland’s sustainable energy future”.

“Ireland’s national gas network must be repurposed to transport renewable biomethane and hydrogen at scale,” he said.

Mr Marley said the GRAZE project is designed to showcase large-scale agricultural biomethane clusters that can be replicated in other locations throughout the State.

He said that investment in biomethane could create up to 6,500 new jobs, mainly in rural Ireland, and provide new income opportunities for local communities from the sale of biomethane, feedstock used to produce the renewable gas and organic bio-fertiliser digestate that is a by-product of the process.

“A domestic biomethane industry would not only support the decarbonisation of the agricultural sector, but it would also provide significant opportunities for rural communities and facilitate sustainable circular economies, with businesses powering their operations via renewable gas made from their own waste,” he said.

Biomethane has already been replacing natural gas in Ireland in small volumes since 2019, via the country’s first renewable gas injection point in Cush, Co Kildare, which is much smaller than the planned Mitchelstown facility.

The EU Green Deal highlighted biomethane as a vital tool in decarbonising European agriculture and energy systems, and the European Commission has identified Ireland as having the highest potential for biomethane production per capita in Europe - due in part to Ireland’s large agricultural sector.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, said that the project shows “how we can diversify our gas supplies” by speeding up the roll-out of renewable gases like biomethane.

“Projects such as this will reduce our reliance on imported fossil fuels, which is especially important now in the context of the war in Ukraine. The Government’s National Energy Security Framework, which sets out how Ireland is prepared to deal with potential shocks to our energy system, has highlighted the need for alternatives to natural gas, such as biomethane and hydrogen, to be developed to enhance Ireland’s security of supply and provide additional diversification for Ireland’s energy mix,” he said.

“It will contribute to our broader climate goals – of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 51% by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050. This project, which champions sustainably-produced, carbon-neutral renewable gas, also exemplifies the principles of the circular economy. By recycling and re-using food and farm waste we can create cleaner energy – for electricity, heat and transport,” he added.

The GRAZE project is being funded under the Climate Action Fund, which is administered by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.

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