Gas Networks Ireland to turn slurry into gas in €500m move

State acting to avoid dependency on Britain after Corrib and Kinsale fields are exhausted

Natural gas is needed to generate more than half the electricity used in the Republic. Photograph: iStock

Natural gas is needed to generate more than half the electricity used in the Republic. Photograph: iStock

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State company Gas Networks Ireland plans to spend €500 million to prepare its system to supply renewable gas made from cattle slurry in coming years.

The company, which operates the network that distributes natural gas to homes and businesses, wants to have 20 per cent of the fuel on its network to come from renewable sources by 2030.

In an interview with The Irish Times today, managing director Denis O’Sullivan, confirms that the State company intends spending “half a billion euro” on the project.

Farmers who have processed a mix of cattle slurry and grass into natural gas will supply the fuel at injection points on Gas Networks Ireland’s network.

Mr O’Sullivan says the company will invest in the infrastructure needed to support the endeavour, including the injection points themselves.

The company aims to have the first renewable gas on its network by the end of this year as it completes a project to demonstrate how the system will work.

Its chief executive predicts that the project will bring three key benefits. “One, it’s seen as a new source of renewable energy, secondly as a way of reducing emissions in the agricultural sector, but also it’s hugely beneficial in terms of the rural economy,” he says.

“We believe there is a very strong model there for it. Ultimately it will need government support to make it happen.” Countries such as Denmark, France, Germany and Italy are already producing renewable gas in this way.

American plans

Mr O’Sullivan also says that his company would welcome either or both of the two liquid natural gas plants that US developers are considering building in the Republic.

US company New Fortress wants to revive a plan for a plant to convert liquid natural gas back to gas on the Shannon Estuary at Ballylongford, Co Kerry.

Texas-based Next Decade is planning a floating facility anchored in Cork Harbour. Natural gas is needed to generate more than half the electricity used in the Republic.

Existing supplies from the Corrib and Kinsale fields will have run out by the end of the next decade, leaving us completely dependent on Britain.

“That’s not ideal: the more diversity of supply you have the more security of supply you have,” Mr O’Sullivan says.

“So we would be in favour of seeing additional sources of supply coming on to our system.”

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