The new target for biomethane production set out by the European Commission is a “decisive step towards the rapid development” of the sector in Ireland and across Europe, according to the Renewable Gas Forum Ireland (RGFI).

The forum has welcomed the announced biomethane target of 35 billion cubic metres (bcm) by 2030, as part of the commission’s REPowerEU Plan to end the EU’s dependency on Russian fossil fuels.

CEO of the RGFI, PJ McCarthy said this target offers tremendous environmental, economic and social benefits for Ireland. He added:

“The increase in biomethane production will also help us to reduce waste, increase food security and support the transition to agroecology on our farms and sustainable food production.”

Deploying 35bcm of sustainable biomethane by 2030, including 3.5bcm by the end of 2022, would replace 20% of the current gas imports from Russia, according to the forum.

The biomethane industry in Ireland is preparing to invest up to €1.8 billion over the coming decade, including plans to develop up to 125 anaerobic digestion (AD) plants by 2030, CEO McCarthy said.

The RGFI said Ireland is well placed in relation to sustainable agriculture feedstock, and that 2-3% of the 2-4 million tonnes of feedstock available per annum, according to Teagasc, should be used as a backstop in the event of a fodder shortage.

A sustainable agri feedstock-based AD biomethane industry in Ireland can secure energy supply, storage and stable energy prices, and support commercial sustainability and competitiveness.

According to the RGFI, further achievements would include:

  • Animal slurry management and removal of potential Nitrates Directive limitations/derogations;
  • Improved soil quality and productivity;
  • Delivering improved air and water quality;
  • Secure supply of organic fertilisers from AD and reduced chemical fertiliser and herbicide reliance;
  • Opportunity to earn a guaranteed diverse income from the implementation of improved farm and land-management practices;
  • Other complementary farm incomes providing rural investment and income diversification.

Over the past year, the forum has been advocating for increased biomethane production, and the RGFI and the European Biogas Association (EBA) are working closely with the commission to reach the target.