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Biomethane to play key role in Ireland’s net-zero future

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Ireland needs a ‘whole of energy’ approach to the future, including repurposing the gas network to carry biomethane and hydrogen, Ervia’s CEO, Cathal Marley, told a conference last week.

Ervia provides strategic national gas and water infrastructure and services through its subsidiaries, including Gas Networks Ireland (GNI). The company appointed Marley as CEO earlier this month.

GNI operates Ireland’s €2.7 billion national gas network, serving over 706,000 Irish homes and businesses. The gas network supplies more than 30% of Ireland’s total energy, including 40% of all heating and over 50% of the country’s electricity generation.

At the 25th annual Energy Ireland conference, Marley discussed the ‘significant challenge’ Ireland is facing in delivering on its net-zero vision. Marley was part of an Irish energy panel discussion alongside other leaders from Bord Gáis Energy, Bord na Móna, ESB and SSE.

“We need to stop seeing gas and electricity as separate and look at how to decarbonise the end-to-energy system, not just individual fuels,” said Marley. “As Ireland’s gas network is one of the most modern in the world, there’s a ready-made solution right under our feet.

“The gas network can be repurposed to carry decarbonised gases, such as biomethane and hydrogen, at minimal cost and disruption, and in turn, play a critical role in an integrated gas and electricity system to decarbonise the country’s energy needs.”

Ervia’s chief legal officer, Claire Madden, talked about decarbonising Ireland’s gas network and the crucial role of natural and renewable gases in Ireland’s energy transition. Madden spoke about the role of the gas network as the ‘cornerstone’ of Ireland’s energy system, as well as what GNI is doing to ensure the network is ready to play its role in meeting Ireland’s climate action targets in line with national and European policy.

“GNI’s vision is for Ireland to replace natural gas with renewable gases, such as biomethane and hydrogen, to substantially reduce the country’s carbon emissions while complementing intermittent renewable electricity and ensuring a secure energy supply,” said Madden.

“Transitioning to a clean energy economy by 2050 requires a balance between sustainability, security and affordability. Leveraging existing energy assets and capabilities will enable Ireland to reach its targets more effectively.”