Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) has met with Phoenix Natural Gas as part of ongoing discussions to consider Northern Ireland’s (NI) potential for biomethane injection.
Phoenix Natural Gas is the largest gas distribution company in NI, while the UFU, founded in 1918, is the largest democratic voluntary organisation representing farmers and growers in NI.
Rural enterprise chair, John Watt, said NI has a modern natural gas network, perfect for transporting biomethane.
“The older gas network in Great Britain has steel pipes but here, the pipes are plastic,” said Watt. “This is a crucial point as there is no need for the significant infrastructure commitments which are envisaged for other technologies in the energy transition mix. Biomethane presents a cost-effective solution in terms of infrastructure.”
Watt added that NI has the potential to become a ‘world leader’ in biomethane. The nation has a ‘ready supply’ of the prime ingredient – 10 million tonnes of cattle slurry produced annually.
“Our agriculture base can support the growth of the biogas sector as the primary providers of biomethane,” added Watt. “The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has stated that Northern Ireland could produce 130-580 million cubic metres of biomethane per year and generate up to 2,500 GWh of power or heat annually.
“With two competing climate change bills going through the Northern Ireland Assembly legislative process, there is a need to speed up the much-needed legislative and regulatory steps to facilitate biomethane injection into the gas network.
“There is a lot of work to do in terms of the technical, regulatory and commercial issues that need to be overcome before this is viable, but when pitched alongside green hydrogen, biomethane a presents locally-sourced, carbon-negative alternative to fossil natural gas.”