15 Member States join Task Force 1 Workshop in Dublin: a deep dive into the Irish biomethane experience

Brussels, 14th of June. From the 12th to the 14th, 2024, 15 Member States joined the Task Force 1 workshop in Dublin, focusing on the Irish biomethane experience. Participating Member States included Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Belgium (Flanders), Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. 

The workshop commenced with Member States attending on the 12th of June the RGFI conference, “Ireland Biomethane – Pathway to 2030”, focused on the Irish Government’s National Biomethane Strategy. The Strategy aims to develop 150-200 new plants and create a farmer-centric, circular bio-economy to produce 5.7 TWh biomethane by 2030. Participants gained practical insights on transitioning from policy to implementation, as the Strategy is expected to provide clarity for anaerobic digestion (AD) developers, farmers, and investors regarding funding and a clear framework for regulation, planning, and approvals. 

The next day Member States visited Teagasc Grange office, where they explored the integration of anaerobic digestion into the agricultural sector. This integration holds the potential to bolster farmers’ incomes, secure food production, reduce agricultural emissions and replace chemical fertilizers, showcasing the agricultural sector’s potential to not only be environmentally neutral but also beneficial for the environment.  

At Teagasc Grange, Member States toured an anaerobic digestion plant, a small-scale facility still under development, that aims to test various feedstocks, gather data, and eventually provide guidance for other biogas producers. Once operational, the plant will produce biomethane for grid injection and capture BioCO₂.  

Throughout the day, Member States discussed strategies to transition from targets to action, sharing experiences in the making of an action plan. They highlighted the importance of an integrated strategy across government departments and robust stakeholder engagement. Cooperation between public and private entities was stressed, drawing inspiration from successful examples in other sectors and learning from the experience of different countries. 

Presentations highlighted opportunities in the biomethane sector, such as utilising process by-products (digestate and BioCO₂), innovative techniques to boost methane yield (including biochar and microalgae) and combining AD with hydrogen production. These innovations promise to scale up biomethane production and enhance cost-efficiency, even for small plants. 

A detailed discussion on agricultural feedstock production highlighted the Irish context, including feedstock availability, typical land use, and farmers’ perspectives. The use of digestate as fertilizer was presented as a key incentive for adopting anaerobic digestion.  

During the workshop on the 13th of June, which took place at the premises of the Irish Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, insights were shared on sustainable target production and the development of a Biomethane Charter. It was emphasized how biomethane charters can help set common standards and ensure adequate community engagement by companies, thereby mitigating the real or perceived negative effects of new energy projects.  

Gas Networks Ireland showcased the role of gas infrastructure in decarbonisation and the rapid development of biomethane production compared to electricity. 

The workshop also included a discussion with Task Force 5.2 and Task Force 2 on the topic of digestate valorisation. Task Force 5.2 presented their draft study on “R&I to improve and enable enhanced digestate valorisation,” and Task Force 2 outlined their future work on the topic. Member States discussed key aspects for future investigation, including the ReNure criteria, economic analysis of digestate treatment, technological options for digestate utilisation, and the profitability of digestate reuse. 

 

Check out the photos of the event!