A multi-disciplinary team at Teagasc has held the first online meeting of the technical working group for a new anaerobic digestion (AD) project.

The project, titled ‘FLEET’, is aimed at identifying farm scale, landscape level and national level economic and environmental implications of farm-supplied alternative feedstock for AD at a regional level.

Teagasc economist Dr. Fiona Thorne is the principal investigator on the FLEET project, which is supported by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) research and development fund.

This research will be the first of its kind in Ireland to evaluate the potential for AD to address economic and environmental outcomes at an individual farm level.

Data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey will be incorporated into the research.

Teagasc said that the willingness to adopt land use changes will provide “useful policy insight”.

“The coming together of industry stakeholders in the technical working group will assist in the development and deployment in the Irish marketplace of competitive energy-related products, processes and systems,” said Dr. Maurice Deasy, a researcher recruited to work on the three-year project.

He explained that this will be done by “identifying farm-scale economic and environmental consequences of alternative feedstock solutions for regional AD supply”.

“The project will assist in identifying knowledge gaps and provide guidance and support for policy makers.”

The FLEET project is one of a number of research projects underway at Teagasc on the topic of AD.

Further research is also on-going in Johnstown Castle and Grange led by Dr. Dominika Krol and Dr. Ciara Beausang into gaseous emissions for sustainable production of AD feedstocks; recycling of the resultant digestate; as well as the fertiliser replacement value of the digestate and overall life cycle assessment of AD systems.

A collaborative project with NUIG is also pursuing optimisation of the AD process to improve biogas / biomethane yields.