Farmers have ‘obvious solution’ to energy crisis

WITH the energy crisis showing no sign of easing, and is likely only to worsen in the coming years and decades, questions are being asked as to why the government is ignoring a possible miracle solution right here on our own doorstep.
As recently reported by the Herald, local glass manufacturing giant Encirc is currently on a mission to transform its operations into the greenest in the industry, and as part of that drive the factory is hoping to employ the use of biomethane.
Biomethane is a self-sufficient green energy alternative to fossil fuels and is often referred to as ‘renewable natural gas.’ It is produced using various processes such as anaerobic digestion and can be extracted from agricultural residues such as manure and slurry.
Essentially, Fermanagh’s farms could be where we’re looking to for our future energy needs.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union has said it is “struggling to comprehend” why the government is continuing to overlook biomethane as a solution to the current crisis. The UFU said the introduction of a biomethane injection could potentially help drive lower heating bills.
“It’s been reported that the UK government are 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,” said UFU rural enterprise chairman John Watt.
“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, government are dismissing an alternative, green energy solution that is right under their nose – biomethane.”
Mr Watt noted a recent CASE report, ‘Utilising Northern Irelands’ Agriculture Sector to Decarbonise Heat’, estimated more than 80 percent of the North’s gas distribution network demand could be replaced with biomethane, which had 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,” he said.
“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 NI.”
Mr Watt added, “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.”

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