Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Questions (198)

Maureen O'Sullivan


198. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a scheme to convert methane to energy which has been trialled in other countries has been examined in view of the high percentage of carbon emissions that comes from the agricultural sector through methane; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3240/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

In addition to contributing to decarbonisation of the heat, transport and electricity sectors, anaerobic digestion also has the potential to reduce emissions for the agriculture and waste sectors and reduce transport emissions by offsetting the use of fossil fuels.

The REFIT3 support scheme, which is funded by the public service obligation paid by electricity consumers, has supported the development of anaerobic digestion facilities via a high-efficiency combined heat and power tariff. This scheme closed for new applications on 31 December 2015.

The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) has been developed to financially support the adoption of renewable heating systems by commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating and other non-domestic heat users not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System. The first phase of the scheme, an installation grant for heat pumps, opened for applications on 12 September 2018. The second phase of the scheme, an operational support for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems, is expected to open for applications early this year, subject to State aid clearance from the European Commission. Under Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan sets out an allocation of €300 million for the rollout of the scheme for the period up to 2027. In addition, my Department is also continuing to examine potential options to support biomethane grid injection.

Electricity output from anaerobic digesters will also be eligible for support under the forthcoming Renewable Electricity Support Scheme. The high level design of this scheme was approved by Government in July 2018 and will also require State aid approval.

On 28 November 2018, I announced the seven successful projects from the first Call for Applications under the Climate Action Fund. One of the successful projects, the Gas Networks Ireland GRAZE Gas project, involves the installation of a Central Grid Injection facility for renewable gas produced from the anaerobic digestion of wastes, including agriculture wastes such as slurry. The project will also support the use of this renewable gas in the transport sector through the development of two compressed natural gas fuelling stations and grant support for 74 vehicles.