The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) claims that it is struggling to comprehend why the UK government is continuing to overlook biomethane as a solution to the fast-developing energy crisis.

According to the farm organisation, the gas is a self-sufficient green alternative to other energy sources.

Moreover, the introduction of a biomethane (renewable gas) injection could potentially help to drive lower heating bills.

UFU rural enterprise chair, John Watt said:

“It’s been reported that the UK government [is] considering spending £37 billion to tackle rising energy bills and increase fossil fuel production following predications that the average annual household energy bill could top £5,000 by next spring.

“This extra expenditure is due to the ongoing war in Ukraine driving up the cost of oil and gas, creating growing concerns locally about energy security.

“However, [the] government [is] dismissing an alternative, green energy solution that is right under their nose – biomethane.”


Biomethane can be produced through different processes, one of which is anaerobic digestion (AD).

There are a number of AD plants in Northern Ireland at the present time. All operate on the basis of securing a premium energy price under the aegis of a ‘Renewable Obligation Certificates’ or ROC scheme.

According to the UFU, the recently published CASE report ‘Utilising Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Sector to Decarbonise Heat’, estimated to be over 6000GWh worth, is more than 80% of Northern Ireland’s gas distribution network demand, and has the potential to heat half a million homes.

“We’ve been very vocal over the past five years on the merits of biomethane and its many uses, including injection to the natural gas grid,” Watt continued.

“We identified how the green energy source acts as a direct substitute for conventional natural gas, and when injected into the gas network, provides a potential heating source which ticks many boxes.

“Biomethane can be produced at scale and distributed thanks to the modern gas network here in Northern Ireland.

“Our lobbying efforts have resulted in biomethane injection being mentioned in both the Future Agriculture Policy and Energy Strategy, yet decision makers continue to drag their heels in getting this over the line.

“We want to see an increased urgency supporting us to move forward with the production and distribution of this locally produced alternative heating fuel, which has the potential to reduce heating bills and contribute to energy security in these uncertain times.”