First ever biomethane injection to grid on island of Ireland marks historic milestone
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In an era characterised by increasing environmental concerns and the pressing need for sustainable energy solutions, the injection of biomethane into the Northern Ireland gas grid at Dungannon stands as a ground-breaking milestone. Evolve, the distribution network operator for the west of Northern Ireland, is spearheading this transformative journey for the energy industry.
The integration of renewable and sustainable energy sources into existing gas grids is identified as a crucial step by government. Connecting to the gas network (where possible) to take advantage of the plan to fully decarbonise the gas used in the network is a recommendation in the Northern Ireland Executive’s Path to Net Zero Energy Strategy.
David Butler, director at Evolve, said: “This is a monumental day for both the region and Evolve as a business. As we move forward, we emphasise the critical importance of strategic collaboration across all facets of the energy industry. A just transition demands cooperation, partnership, and coordinated efforts from government bodies, businesses, researchers, customers and communities.
"By uniting our collective expertise and resources, we can navigate the complex challenges ahead, ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of a sustainable and equitable future. This is not a token connection; it is just the start of a journey to fully decarbonise our entire network by 2030.”
Biomethane has already been identified as a pivotal energy source in decarbonisation goals throughout Europe and most countries have now developed a subsidy scheme to support production in the early stages of developing the industry.
The Danish parliament has adopted formal conditions to increase biomethane production to substitute 100% of the Danish gas demand before 2030. John French, chief executive at the Utility Regulator, said: “Today marks a significant milestone in Northern Ireland’s journey towards decarbonising energy.
"The direct injection of biomethane into the Evolve grid represents a tangible transition from theoretical discussions to a concrete demonstration of the pivotal role gas networks in Northern Ireland are set to play. This development underscores the commitment to offering consumers access to a decarbonised energy source, all while minimising the necessity for substantial costs and upheaval—a crucial aspect in the collective pursuit of a Just Transition.”
Biomethane plays a pivotal role in bolstering security for energy supply, a critical step in strengthening the region’s resilience in the face of broader economic and environmental conditions. Utilising biomethane, sourced locally from organic materials, substantially decreases reliance on external energy sources, thereby helping ensure a dependable supply.
Additionally, the wealth of indigenous fuel resources holds the key to substantial export potential, potentially creating a considerable economic uplift for the region.
Evolve, formerly SGN Natural Gas, is the gas distribution network operator for the west of Northern Ireland, covering eight key towns: Cookstown, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Derrylin, Magherafelt, Coalisland, Omagh, and Strabane. Evolve’s aim is to help residents and businesses in the region move away from traditional, carbon intensive fossil fuels such as coal and oil to gas in the short term, before transitioning them to green gases such as biomethane through their existing gas boiler and without additional equipment.