A significant renewable energy report launched today by Cork Chamber and the Centre for Cooperative Studies at UCC highlights a significant deficit in policy and fiscal support for anaerobic digestion, a technology that converts waste products from food, agriculture, wastewater treatment and other sources into biomethane, a fuel source that can form a key element in Ireland’s efforts to reduce GHG emissions.
Speaking at the launch of the report Thomas Mc Hugh, Director of Public Affairs at Cork Chamber said, “Anaerobic digestion is the very embodiment of a circular economy solution, taking waste products with little or no value and creating a market, economy and valuable energy resource in doing so. However, at present the sector draws little confidence from the Irish policy system. The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is a hugely positive step but as yet, no award has been made to anaerobic digestion.
It is long established that mobilising anaerobic digestion could generate €1.5 billion in direct investment and 3,600 new permanent jobs, in many cases in rural environments. It can also significantly boost the country’s green credentials and enhance our attractiveness to foreign direct investment.”
Ashley Amato, report author and graduate of UCC’s MSc in Co-operatives, Agri-Food and Sustainable Development, said “Anaerobic Digestion creates a stable revenue stream for anyone supplying feedstock. For agriculture there is untapped revenue stability and carbon offsetting there for the taking, with the appropriate market supports.”
Dr Carol Power, Centre for Cooperative Studies said, “We have exemplary use of the cooperative model in Ireland which lends itself so well to the provision of feedstock for large and small scale anaerobic digestion, yet the sector is nowhere near a full activation.”
In conclusion Thomas Mc Hugh said, “With targets to decarbonise Ireland it is clear that a blend of technologies will be required to provide dependable energy security. With anaerobic digestion we can make a deep impact on the sustainability of the energy that we consume, utilising the resources that currently exist in agriculture, wastewater treatment and food systems into energy. It is time for Government to step up, continue to deepen the RESS and give a clear signal and certainty to this untapped economic driver.”