A company has begun to inject renewable biomethane into the local gas network for the first time in Northern Ireland.
Bio Capital Group company, Granville Eco Park, which is based in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, started the gas injection last Thursday (November 16).
Bio Capital has installed a £1.2 million gas to grid system at its existing anaerobic digestor, which the company said has the capability to export enough gas to decarbonise Dungannon’s entire annual gas consumption.
As biomethane is similar to natural gas, the company explained that it can be blended into the network without the need for any changes in transmission and distribution infrastructure or end-user equipment.
When generated from organic waste and used for heat, Bio Capital said that biomethane could produce greenhouse gas (GHG) savings of up to 92% compared to natural gas.
Bio Capital’s chief technical officer Dr. David McKee said the gas injection is a “significant milestone for Northern Ireland”.
“This is the first major step in increasing the amount of power, heat and transport that can be fuelled by renewable gas.
“Bio Capital has a wealth of experience in this area and a number of its other UK facilities are already injecting biomethane into the gas network, but this is a first for Northern Ireland – where we begin our journey towards a sustainable drive for indigenous renewable gas,” he said.
Up to now, Granville, which has been generating renewable gas since 2014, had been using the gas to generate electricity on site and to fuel gas-powered heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).
The company has also been transporting biomethane to customers for heat and power by road in pressurised containers.
“Replacing imported fossil fuels with a renewable low carbon alternative will go a significant way towards helping Northern Ireland exceed its targets set within the Energy Strategy and Climate Change Act.
“Diverting biodegradable waste from landfill to generate biomethane is also in line with the draft Circular Economy Strategy and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) ambition to ban biodegradable goods going to landfill by 2030,” McKee added.
The largest facility of its kind in Northern Ireland, Bio Capital produces biomethane by recycling biodegradable waste from local councils, the hospitality sector and food and drink processors as well as using it as a feedstock for anaerobic digestion (AD).
The anaerobic digestion process also produces a nutrient rich biofertiliser which is currently used on local farmland and helps to reduce farmers’ reliance on imported artificial fertiliser.
Bio Capital is exploring opportunities to export biofertiliser and supply renewable CO2 to food and drink customers which would further bolster the circular economy.