Bio Capital announces “historic” first renewable gas injection for Northern Ireland
Having installed a £1.2 million (€1.3 million) gas-to-grid system at its existing anaerobic digestor, Bio Capital added it has the capability to export enough gas to decarbonise Dungannon’s entire annual gas consumption.
The gas injection went live on 16 November and because biomethane is similar to natural gas, it is able to be blended into the network without the need for any changes in transmission and distribution infrastructure or end-user equipment.
Evolve, the distribution network operator for the west of Northern Ireland, said it is spearheading this transformative journey for the energy industry.
Being 100% renewable and compliant with existing gas infrastructure means biomethane has the potential to play a major role in Northern Ireland’s transition to net zero, said Bio Capital.
When generated from organic waste and used for heat, biomethane could produce greenhouse gas savings of up to 92% compared to natural gas.
Northern Ireland Bio Capital's chief technical officer Dr David McKee said: “This is the first major step in increasing the amount of power, heat and transport that can be fuelled by renewable gas. Bio Capital has a wealth of experience in this area and a number of its other UK facilities are already injecting biomethane into the gas network, but this is a first for Northern Ireland – where we begin our journey towards a sustainable drive for indigenous renewable gas.
“Granville has been generating renewable gas since 2014. Up until now we have been using the gas to generate electricity on site, fuelling gas powered HGVs and transporting biomethane to customers for heat and power by road in pressurised containers. Having this gas to grid connection now offers us a further route to market.
“Replacing imported fossil fuels with a renewable low carbon alternative will go a significant way towards helping Northern Ireland exceed its targets set within the Energy Strategy and Climate Change Act. Diverting biodegradable waste from landfill to generate biomethane is also in line with the draft Circular Economy Strategy and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) ambition to ban biodegradable goods going to landfill by 2030."
David Butler, director at Evolve, said: “This is a monumental day for both the region and Evolve as a business. As we move forward, we emphasise the critical importance of strategic collaboration across all facets of the energy industry. A just transition demands cooperation, partnership, and coordinated efforts from government bodies, businesses, researchers, customers and communities. By uniting our collective expertise and resources, we can navigate the complex challenges ahead, ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of a sustainable and equitable future. This is not a token connection; it is just the start of a journey to fully decarbonise our entire network by 2030.”
John French, chief executive at the Utility Regulator, commented: “Today marks a significant milestone in Northern Ireland's journey towards decarbonising energy. The direct injection of biomethane into the Evolve grid represents a tangible transition from theoretical discussions to a concrete demonstration of the pivotal role gas networks in Northern Ireland are set to play. This development underscores the commitment to offering consumers access to a decarbonised energy source, all while minimising the necessity for substantial costs and upheaval — a crucial aspect in the collective pursuit of a Just Transition.”