An Ireland South MEP has said that a pilot scheme for anaerobic digestion (AD) is unnecessary as the technology is already scientifically proven.
Speaking at the recent AXA National Dairy Show in the Green Glens Arena, Millstreet, Co. Cork, Billy Kelleher expressed his frustration at the lack of progress in this country in rolling out AD facilities.
“We’re a laggard when it comes to Europe on anaerobic digestion, in fact I’m extremely disappointed we’re still where we are.
“France embraced this concept about ten years ago, Germany has been at it for 20 years, Denmark and the Netherlands are well ahead of us as well,” he said.
“I think we have about 14 anaerobic digestors in Ireland; in Germany they have over 4,000 alone.
“They fuel vast amounts of their heavy transport vehicles, they create electricity from it, they heat homes and very soon they will be making fertiliser from it,” the Fianna Fáil MEP said.
“We have a pilot scheme in place. Sometimes, we try to reinvent the wheel – we know the wheel is round and it keeps going round,” he continued.
“We don’t need to have pilot schemes, what we need to do is fully embrace what is being done in other countries that has been very successful.
“When we look at the dairy sector we have challenges around the methane gas emissions from the enteric fermentation of the animal. But we also have a challenge in terms of methane coming from slurry.
“Anaerobic digestive is a major part of a solution to that particular problem,” Kelleher said.
Due to the high capital costs involved, the MEP said that it is not possible to have AD facilities on every individual farm.
“In anaerobic digestion, the science is there, we know it works, but it has to be supported and incentivised.
“The co-ops have a major part in this, and local authorities to an extent as well,” he said.
“Certainly, where you’ve lots of slurry, where you’ve lots of agricultural land, where you’ve lots of waste outputs – all of these things can be used and are used all over northern Europe at this stage.
“We are light years behind, so it does require a mind shift,” Kelleher said.