Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Questions (588)

Peter Burke


588. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to consider the use of agricultural biomethane gas plants similar to those in used in Europe; the role such plants could play for small beef producers; the estimated tariffs that will be put in place to make such plants sustainable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26362/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Government's Climate Action Plan, published on 17 June, sets out over 180 actions to address the issue of climate disruption. These actions include setting a target level of energy to be supplied by biomethane grid injection in 2030 and holding a public consultation later this year in on the potential to support biomethane use in the transport sector through the Biofuels Obligation Scheme.

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 heat, transport and electricity sectors by replacing fossil fuels, the production of biogas can reduce emissions in the agriculture and waste sectors. Diverting wastes, such as slurries, to biogas production avoids the significant levels of greenhouse gases these waste streams would otherwise emit.

Anaerobic digestion plants can utilise a wide variety of feedstocks, including agricultural waste, in order to produce biogas (a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide). This biogas can be combusted in boilers to produce heat, or in combined heat and power plants to produce both heat and electricity. Alternatively, the biogas can be upgraded by removing the carbon dioxide to produce biomethane which can be injected into the existing gas grid.

Biomethane can also be utilised in the transport sector. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) can be deployed for all types of road transport vehicles but is particularly suited to larger vehicles such as buses, vans and trucks and therefore represents a viable alternative to diesel for the freight sector.

The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) will support farms and businesses to adopt renewable heating systems, including biogas heating systems. The SSRH has been developed to financially support the adoption of renewable heating systems by agricultural, commercial, industrial, district heating operators and other non-domestic heat users not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System. Under Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan sets out an allocation of €300 million for the rollout of the SSRH for the period of up to 2027.

Earlier this month, I opened the second phase of the SSRH, an operational support for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems for applications. Details of this scheme including the tariffs that apply are available on the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland's website at the following link https://www.seai.ie/sustainable-solutions/support-scheme-renewable-/.