Gas Networks Ireland: Making Renewable Gas a Reality

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Company Description:

Gas Networks Ireland (formerly Bord Gáis Networks) is part of Ervia (formerly Bord Gáis Éireann).  We own, operate, build and maintain the natural gas network in Ireland, transporting natural gas through our 13,000km network.  We ensure that over 670,000 natural gas customers receive a safe, efficient and secure supply of natural gas, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and we connect all customers to the network, regardless of their supplier.

Responsibility is part of our culture at Gas Networks Ireland.  It is a key theme of our business strategy, playing a crucial role in our growth and success.  In 2013, Gas Networks Ireland was awarded the Business Working Responsibly Mark certification for responsible and sustainable business practices.   Our approach to corporate responsibility delivers sustainable provisions and solutions as a responsible employer, community partner, marketplace operator, environmental stakeholder and as both a business leader and corporate citizen.  Our commitment to responsibility ensures that the skills and resources of our business are applied to support growth, progress opportunities, tackle challenges and identify solutions.

For further detail see

Business Issue:
Renewable Gas – examining the production and use of biomethane as a renewable energy source in Ireland and its potential to assist in meeting Ireland’s renewable energy targets.

Solution Applied:
Support for dedicated study (PhD student and ERI, UCC as well as Ernst & Young) on the viability, production potential, barriers to overcome to make renewable gas a reality.

Production of report based on study for necessary parties (including Gas Networks Ireland) and relevant authorities to consider in developing renewable gas industry in Ireland.

Company Benefits:
Gas Networks Ireland mission is to provide our customers with sustainable energy solutions. The Renewable Gas Study and Report outlines how grass and waste can be converted into natural gas that can then be used locally or piped into the national grid for distribution around Ireland.

The report estimates that 7.5% of Ireland’s natural gas demand could be met by renewable gas, the equivalent of heating 300,000 homes each year.

Stakeholder Benefits:
Thermal Energy – Ireland’s White Paper on Energy in 2007 set targets of 33% renewable electricity and 12% renewable heat by 2020 (although the RES-E target is now 40% since the Carbon Budget in 2008). Ireland could make substantial contribution to RES-H target using this source or renewable energy.

Waste Management – Biomethane plants offer a useful alternative to landfill.

Carbon Abatement & Sustainability – Biofuels produced from residues and lignocelluloses material (such as grass) are awarded ‘double credit’ when establishing compliance with 2020 target of 10% renewable energy in transport.

Security of Supply – Production of biomethane from anaerobic digestion could provide Ireland with an indigenous and reliable energy source amounting to 33% of domestic natural gas demand, helping to reduce the dependency on natural gas imported from the UK and mainland Europe. It could also provide protection from volatile energy prices.

Economic Development & Innovation – Development of biomethane infrastructure could generate significant employment opportunities in terms of plant construction, operation and indirect services, creating estimated 5,000 indirect jobs.

• Set national targets for proportion of gas demand to be met from biomethane.

• Review Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff to support biomethane fed directly into natural gas grid. • Implement regulatory conditions to allow producers inject biomethane directly into gas grid and adopt suitable standards to regulate quality of biomethane injected.

• Implement new support structures for agriculture to provide incentive for farmers to produce feedstock for biomethane production. • Align renewable energy and waste management policies to deliver certainty around feedstock supply over life of biomethane plant.

• More funding for research, development and demonstration of renewable gas technologies.

The technology is already in use: for example, farmers in Denmark and Germany have formed co-operatives to finance, build and run renewable gas facilities. In Stockholm, the city treats municipal waste to create natural gas for use as transport fuel.

Departments Involved:
Commercial Department, Gas Networks Ireland

Solution Champion:
Cathal Gallagher, Energy Development Manager, Bord Gáis, Gasworks Road, Cork