Biogas in Ireland: What are the benefits?

Biogas is a type of biofuel that is naturally produced from the decomposition of organic waste, a process known as anaerobic digestion.

For example, in Ireland, animal slurry and energy crops could be used to fuel a small-scale biogas plant.

Recently, the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) and Composting and the Anaerobic Digestion Association of Ireland (Cré) have come together to establish a sustainable biogas and anaerobic digestion industry in Ireland.

Speaking at a Teagasc workshop on biogas production, at the Landmark Hotel, Carrick-On-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, Sean Finan, CEO of IrBEA, said: “There are two distinct levels and scales of biogas plants that could be deployed in Ireland.

“The first one is small scale, which aims to develop biogas plants to suit working farms – without affecting current operations.

“The second one is the medium-to-large scale, which at the moment is not a viable option to install on farms in Ireland, due to the cost of it.

“Both of these are completely different and, at the moment, we are focusing on implementing small-scale systems onto farms,” Sean added.

Benefits of biogas

Sean outlined the benefits biogas would offer, which include up to 400 new jobs and abating over 500,000t of carbon dioxide (CO²).

Other benefits include:

  • Improving water quality and management;
  • Improving biodiversity;
  • Allow for sustainable waste management;
  • Reduce the use of chemical fertilisers on farms;
  • Help achieve electrical, heat and transport targets.

A biogas industry will also help with: economic growth in rural Ireland; reducing slurry odours; and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Sean believes that biogas will address agricultural challenges that farmers face on an annual basis.

“It will provide an alternative income stream for struggling farming sectors and the biogas industry can also assist farmers in times of fodder shortage,” Sean concluded.

The closing date for farmer expression of interest for the small-scale biogas demonstration project is November 1, 2019.

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