Biogas produced from anaerobic digestion has the potential to play an important role in Ireland's transition to a low-carbon future. In addition to helping decarbonise the energy sector by replacing fossil fuels, the production of biogas can also reduce emissions in the agriculture and waste sectors. The support scheme for renewable heat has been developed to support financially the adoption of renewable heating systems by non-domestic heat users not covered by the EU emissions trading system. The next phase of the scheme includes support for biogas heating systems. A formal state aid application to the European Commission was submitted last month.
In the electricity sector, the Renewable Energy Feed In Tariff, REFIT, 3 support scheme has supported the development of anaerobic digestion facilities via a high-efficiency combined heat and power tariff. This scheme is now closed for new applications. However, electricity output from anaerobic digesters will be eligible to compete for support under the forthcoming renewable electricity support scheme.
Biogas can also be purified into biomethane and then injected into the gas grid. The draft national energy and climate plan published last December includes the potential to support 1.6 million MW hours of biomethane grid injection by 2030. A key enabler for biomethane grid injection is the development of grid injection points. Gas Networks Ireland is currently developing Ireland's first injection point and the development of a second will be supported by the Climate Action Fund. The principal barrier to the development of biomethane grid injection is the significant cost differential between natural gas and biomethane. My Department continues to examine potential options to support biomethane grid injection, including how to fund this cost differential.