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UCC Professor – “We Must Make Green Renewable Gas”

On the 6th of September, UCC Professor Jerry Murphy made calls for an increase in the
number of biogas plants to be built in Ireland. The comments were issued at the SEAI/
International Energy Agency Bioenergy Symposium on “Anaerobic Digestion in the Circular
Economy.”
Professor Murphy believes that in order for the Irish Government to achieve its circular
economy objectives laid out in the €21.8 billion National Development Plan, an increase in
the number of biogas plants must be built in Ireland. He maintains that biogas is a far more
suitable and better option for renewable energy, rather than wind power. In his explanation
of such a system, the Professor described that a decarbonised gas method was “the epitome
of the circular economy.”
“Biogas plants cannot be directly compared to other renewable energy sources like wind
turbines, which produce electricity,” explained Prof Murphy, Director of the SFI MaREI
Centre headquartered at the UCC Environmental Research Institute and Leader of the
International Energy Agency Biogas Task. “There are so many more advantages to a biogas
system – from waste treatment, production of biofertilizer, generation of a renewable
energy suitable for transport, heating or electricity, improved water quality and provision of
jobs in rural communities. It is the full package”.
Some 135 delegates from all around the world flocked to UCC for the symposium, including
representatives from the Dept. of Agriculture, Food & Marine, European Biogas Association
and the Centre for Agricultural Engineering in Queensland. To put it in its simplest form,
biogas plants rely on anaerobic digestion, a type of fermentation process in a closed vessel
where waste such as manure, food and sewage are digested by microbes, producing
methane gas (biogas), and converting the waste into biofertilizer. Irish secondary school
students learn a procedure similar to this if they study Biology for the Leaving Certificate.
The event took place in Cork to highlight the fact that Ireland is leading the way in
researching and developing a system with this source of green energy through its
collaboration with Irish farmers. Farmers are particularly interested in biogas plants because
,in the long-run, it would reduce their own bills while also decreasing emissions. Professor
Murphy followed by saying, “we are well-versed in the concepts and industry of renewable
electricity. We must now decarbonise gas and make green renewable gas. 6 EU gas grids
have committed to 100% decarbonised gas by 2050. Ireland must follow.”
According to reports, the University Express have been informed that beer producer Diageo
aims to derive all of its electrical energy from renewable sources by 2030. It intends to
source decarbonised biogas from producers such as the Green Generation biogas plant
based in the Costello pig farm in Nurney, Co. Kildare. Dairygold’s Mitchelstown complex is
home to the world’s largest above-ground anaerobic digester, which produces biogas from
dairy industry waste water to fuel its production needs.