19th June 2018:
A new study has found that using renewable gas in the state owned gas network can drastically reduce CO2 emissions generated by heating one million homes at a third of the cost of electric heat pumps currently incentivised by the Government.
As Ireland continues its transformation to a low-carbon economy and society by 2050, this KPMG report, commissioned by Ervia, found that the installation of electric heat pumps in a million urban homes would also be more complex than using renewable gas for homes close to the state-owned gas network.
According to Ervia CEO Mike Quinn: “This report shows that a change in government policy from supporting electric heat-pumps to supporting renewable gas for these homes would remove carbon emissions at a much lower cost.”
The KPMG evaluation considered the costs and impact of three scenarios, namely:
It concluded that using renewable gas in the existing gas network is the lowest cost solution to lowering CO2 emissions arising from heating these homes. The other two options – involving hydrogen or heat pumps, while feasible, would both mean greater cost and complexity.
Professor Brian Ó Gallachóir of UCC welcomed the report, saying it is aligned with research from the national marine and renewable energy research centre MaREI. He said: “There is a very important role for renewable gas in heating buildings on or close to the gas network in helping us to meet our 2030 targets for climate action. It would add to and complement well the measures identified in the National Development Plan. Gas Networks Ireland has a target of achieving a 20% biomethane share of gas supply by 2030. If we achieve a 4% share by 2021, this can deliver a 4 million tonnes reduction of CO2 emissions in the period 2021-2030 - similar levels to that achieved by the combined goals of half a million people buying electric vehicles and an additional 170,000 homes installing heat pumps by 2030. The difference is, with the biomethane solution, there is less convincing and active decision making required for homeowners”.
As well as assisting in decarbonising Ireland’s economy, developing an indigenous anaerobic digestion industry could transform large parts of Ireland’s rural economy by stimulating high value infrastructure investment in rural areas, while creating significant construction and engineering roles within the wider economy, all while securing energy supply in Ireland.
Decarbonising home heating forms part of Ervia’s overall decarbonisation strategy which could remove one third of Ireland’s CO2 emissions. Ervia is studying the feasibility of carbon capture and storage and monitoring the evaluation of hydrogen as a long term replacement for natural gas in the UK and Europe. As well as developing renewable gas, Gas Networks Ireland is developing a comprehensive national Compressed Natural Gas refuelling network that will provide nationwide coverage for vehicles operating on Irish roads.
Speaking at the Energy Ireland conference, Mr. Quinn said “Maximising the use of state owned assets in parallel with measures such as renewable energy generation is crucial for Ireland to avoid substantial fines while mitigating against climate change at least cost.