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SGN Natural Gas ready for biomethane introduction as study shows decarbonisation benefits for NI

SGN Natural Gas ready for biomethane introduction as study shows decarbonisation benefits for NI

Posted: 01 Jun, 2022

SGN Natural Gas is proud to have biomethane-ready boilers following a study led by Queen's University Belfast (QUB) which found that turning livestock manure and grass silage into biomethane could help meet energy demands as well as significantly reducing Northern Ireland’s carbon footprint. 

Research included spatial mapping and life cycle assessments to determine the potential of biomethane for the decarbonisation of the gas network. QUB was partnered by AFBI for the study, with support from The Centre for Advanced Sustainable Energy and industry partners Phoenix Natural Gas, Agri-AD and Enerchem. 

The estimation of over 6000 GWh worth of biomethane in Northern Ireland was a major finding. This would account for more than 80 per cent of Northern Ireland’s Gas Distribution Network demand, meaning there are considerably greater volumes of the renewable gas available than previously thought.

The study also found that CO₂ emissions in Northern Ireland could be reduced by approximately 845,000 tonnes using biomethane produced via anaerobic digestion of livestock manure and underutilised grass silage.

Professor David Rooney, Dean of Internationalisation and Reputation at QUB, revealed the key findings during a launch event at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast last month. 

He said: "Tackling issues of climate change and rising fuel costs has led to an increased interest in regionally generated renewable gas and decarbonising gas use has never been more important.

"At Queen’s, this is something we have been working on for many years and our latest study highlights the unique opportunity we have in Northern Ireland. 

"We are a country that has high agricultural intensity and there is huge scope to work closely with the sector to capture problematic emissions and redirect them to where they have greater value to the regional economy.

"We have shown that not only could 80 per cent of the current gas demand be displaced, but that the approach would also help to deal with other problematic emissions which impact water quality. 

"Future work will more closely examine the costs as well as economic and environmental value."

The SGN Natural Gas network will ultimately play a vital role in decarbonisation by helping to remove millions of tonnes of CO₂ from the west of Northern Ireland, where oil and solid fuel use remains prevalent. 

With a vision for a carbon net-zero environment by 2050, the company’s innovative network is designed to ensure there is now a clear pathway to a fully decarbonised, cleaner fuel future for Northern Ireland that can deliver significant environmental benefits for the planet.

David Butler, Director of SGN Natural Gas, commented: “At SGN Natural Gas, we are encouraging more customers to move away from heating their homes with oil and coal, while at the same time, working diligently on ways to further decarbonise Northern Ireland's newest gas network for everyone's benefit.

"Importantly, we are working with our industry partners on the integration of zero-carbon fuels like biomethane into the network, which is expected later this year.

"This is a huge milestone which highlights the key role our infrastructure will play, particularly in Northern Ireland where levels of biomethane are higher than in other parts of the world. 

"Leveraging these considerations and becoming a world leader in new, green energy is a very real opportunity for our region and one that excites us as an innovative utility infrastructure company.

"Existing and prospective SGN Natural Gas customers can also take comfort in the knowledge that their boilers are 'biomethane-ready', meaning no changes will be required to their set-ups."