Biomethane a chance for farmers across Midlands-North West to tap into a new income stream – MEP Maria Walsh

Maria Walsh 2024

Farmers across Midlands-North West must be the big winners from an Irish biomethane sector producing renewable gas if it is to be successfully developed at scale, MEP Maria Walsh has said. 

MEP Walsh was speaking after the Government published its new biomethane strategy which sets out the pathway to delivering up to 5.7 Terawatt hours of indigenous produced biomethane by 2030 equating to approximately 10% of Ireland’s current gas demand. 

Maria Walsh, MEP for Midlands-North West, said: 

“We are all aware of the need to decarbonise our energy system and biomethane is an obvious replacement for natural gas to which there is currently no alternative. This creates a tangible opportunity for farmers across Midlands-North West to generate an additional income from their farm through supplying feedstocks to anaerobic digestion plants.

“We have been behind other EU countries in developing a biomethane sector but we are now at the starting line with this strategy. I believe making sure farmers across Midlands-North West are at the centre of the development of this industry will be crucial to its success and achieving widespread buy-in.

“I welcome recognition in the strategy of the potential benefits of pursuing a co-operative model whereby farmers in a locality could be more than just the suppliers of feedstock. It has worked in our dairy industry and I believe it could work in the biomethane sector too.”

In addition to the publication of the biomethane strategy, Government has announced a €40m capital support programme for the development of plants and its intention to introduce a Renewable Heat Obligation (RHO) to incentivise suppliers of fuel for heat to increase the proportion of renewable energy they supply.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Martin Heydon T.D. said: 

“Fine Gael, through its National Agriculture Food and Rural Development Forum, has identified the potential of the biomethane sector as an additional source of farm income and as a source of fertiliser through digestate. 

“Expressions of Interest for the €40m Biomethane Capital Programme are now open and we will be exploring funding opportunities through the infrastructure, climate and nature fund.”