The first large scale renewable gas injection facility in Ireland is to be built in Co Cork next summer, Gas Networks Ireland has announced.
The new facility, at full capacity, is expected to meet the requirements of 64,000 homes and support the move away from imported fossil fuels.
The €30 million investment will include the construction of a central grid injection (CGI) facility in Mitchelstown, Co Cork.
The development of the wider biomethane sector across rural Ireland is expected to create up to 6,500 jobs across the sector.
The facility will receive and inject biomethane, a carbon-neutral renewable gas made from farm and food waste through a process call anaerobic digestion, from up to 20 local farm-based producers.
Gas Networks Ireland said Biomethane is fully compatible with the existing national gas network, appliances, technologies and vehicles, and will replace natural gas to reduce emissions in heating, industry, transport and power generation, while also supporting the decarbonisation of the agri-food sector.
"Investing in biomethane in a large-scale manner has many benefits – both for the energy sector and Irish agriculture,” said Gas Networks Ireland chief executive Cathal Marley.
“It will create significant employment, with 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 also a highly effective 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.”
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 Climate Action Plan has set a target of 1.6 TWh of natural gas, around 3 per cent of Ireland’s gas usage, to be replaced by biomethane by 2030.
Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said: “This 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.
“It will contribute to our broader climate goals – of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 51 per cent by 2030 and reaching netzero emissions by 2050.”