For Oral Answer on : 14/07/2022
Question Number(s): 17 Question Reference(s): 38531/22
Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the way in which his Department is supporting farmers in the production of biomethane on farms from animal manure and other agricultural by-products by a process of using anaerobic digestion; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a proven science for the generation of sustainable energy and it is a largerly untapped resource in this country. I believe there is potential to develop anaerobic digestion on Irish farms, especially considering the current global energy crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
It should be noted however, that energy policy formation, including renewable energy, is the direct responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC). However, my Department is engaging with the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications on all energy related matters from an agricultural perspective, as well as a wide range of industry and other stakeholder groupings.
My Department continues to engage with farmers and other relevant stakeholders as part of its regulatory role in the Anaerobic Digestion industry specifically when animal-by-products are utilised as a feedstock for Anaerobic Digestion. There are currently 12 anaerobic digesters producing biogas in operation nationally that are approved and under license by my Department.
The development of an anaerobic digestion industry in Ireland must be based on scientific research and country specific data. To this end, my Department continues to support research, development and demonstration in this particular area.
Two projects in particular which have received part-funding from my Department through the European Innovation Partnerships initiative (EIP), as part of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 will provide this much needed information. The Bio-refinery Glas (small scale farmer-led green bio-refineries) and Irish Bio-energy Association (IrBEA) (small biogas demonstration programme) have both been awarded funding of over €900,000 each.
I look forward to seeing the results of these projects which will provide valuable information of specific relevance to Irish farmers. The development of an AD indsutry could be a strong new income stream for farm families too.