A TD claimed that the government’s failure to apply to a EU fund to support biomethane production undermines the ongoing efforts to decarbonise the agri-food sector.
Responding to a recent Dáil question from deputy Michael McNamara, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan confirmed that an application was not made under the first tranche of the REPowerEU scheme.
The scheme aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and dependence on Russian fossil fuels through the sustainable development of biomethane production.
“I’ll have to come back to what we specifically said in the European Union but I don’t believe we did, but I’ll have to check that and make sure that that fact is correct,” Minister Ryan said.
Although the government did not apply for funding under the scheme, Minister Ryan said that biomethane is going to be part of Ireland’s low-carbon transition.
“We agreed in the sectoral emission ceilings this summer that we would develop 5.8TWh of biomethane, largely from the agricultural sector. This is proven technology,” he said.
“We are at first base in getting the mechanisms and policies in place to roll out that infrastructure.
“We have never been short of applying for European funding. We have been remarkably successful in drawing down funding in a range of tranches of European funding.
“I would not rule out further funding from Europe for this development. We will continue to work with the Commission,” Minister Ryan said.
Deputy McNamara noted that an EU Commission study confirmed Ireland and Denmark as the countries with most potential to development biomethane production.
“Italy drew down €4.8 billion, while Denmark already produces 25% of the gas it consumes as biomethane,” he said.
“In the meantime, it is reported we are spending €350 million on emergency generators,” the Clare Independent TD said.
“Ireland is one of two European nations which failed to apply to the scheme which, it is reported, will deliver €37 billion in biomethane funding in the coming years.
“Ireland’s failure to apply to the scheme undermines ongoing efforts to decarbonise the agri-food sector and reduce overall emissions across the Irish economy, and it flies in the face of this government’s stated ambition to move towards sustainable energy and also to domestic alternatives to imported gas.”
The TD cited projects which were being developed between the private sector and farming groups.
“The failure to apply for funding will come as a shock and disappointment to them given the potential to help alleviate the energy crisis in our state and the parallel need to reduce methane emissions in agriculture,” McNamara said.