The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) on 21 June launched a public consultation to gather views on proposed emissions targets for 2030 and 2040 as well as proposed carbon budgets for Northern Ireland. The consultation runs until 11 October and aims to inform Northern Ireland’s approach to reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
As members of the ADBA working in anaerobic digestion and bioresources, especially in the Northern Ireland region, your perspectives and evidence will be critical to shaping Northern Ireland’s climate policies. We encourage you to provide input regarding challenges for Northern Ireland AD sector and barriers keeping the sector from reaching its full potential.
This is also a great opportunity for AD operators and developers in Northern Ireland to raise any concerns you may have regarding policies and support schemes in the nation.
Your evidence and recommendations will help strengthen our response to this consultation and ensure Northern Ireland sets ambitious yet practical paths to utilize biogas and biofuels for net zero.
To provide feedback and insight, email Wasundara via email@example.com
CCC Advice Report for Northern Ireland
In 2022, Northern Ireland set an ambitious net zero emissions target for 2050 that surpasses the Climate Change Committee’s recommended fair share. This legally binding goal goes well beyond what the CCC advised was achievable for Northern Ireland’s contribution to UK-wide net zero.
Advising NI on how to achieve this ‘extremely stretched’ target, CCC published an Advice Report on March 2023, providing guidance to Northern Ireland on reaching the legislated target. The report advises on appropriate levels for the interim 2030 and 2040 milestones, as well as the First (2023-2027), Second (2028-2032) and Third (2033-2037) Carbon Budgets along the pathway.
Below we analyse and brief the BECCS and AD-related messages extracted from the report. The Advice Report strongly recommends NI government include AD as one of the main solutions to decarbonise some of its hardest-to-abate sectors including energy and agriculture. This consultation, therefore, is a great opportunity for the AD industry to emphasise the potential of the sector to support decarbonise short-term.
Bioenergy, carbon capture and storage
- The greenhouse gas removals from BECCS are accounted for in the country where the CO2 is captured, not where biomass is grown or CO2 Therefore, for BECCS to contribute to Northern Ireland’s emissions targets, BECCS plants would need to be located in NI, although CO2 could be transported elsewhere for storage.
- There is limited potential for CO2 storage in NI, but CO2 could be captured in NI and transported to storage sites elsewhere in the UK.
- CCC pathway assumes NI could provide 2-3% of total UK-grown biomass for BECCS. This could remove 1.1 MtCO2 in NI by 2050 (CCC assumptions do not consider that any bio-resource is imported and used in BECCS, as many other countries are better placed to do this).
- BECCS requires infrastructure for CO2 capture and transport, and an agreement to store CO2 outside NI as there are no suitable NI storage sites.
- NI has a higher potential for biogas than previously estimated – up to 3,500 GWh from sustainable feedstocks.
- In their 2020 analysis, CCC estimated Northern Ireland could produce around 1,000 GWh of biogas in 2050, to be used across industry, combined heat and power, and upgrading to biomethane for gas network injection. Further evidence since then indicates Northern Ireland has a higher potential for biogas production than previously thought.
- To maximise emissions reduction, biomethane should be used to displace fossil gas before being used for power/hydrogen production with CCS.
- Methane leaks from AD must be minimised to ensure climate benefits.
- Biogas should only be produced from waste feedstocks, not crops grown for AD.
- No biomethane injection currently occurs in NI, presenting an opportunity for development.
- Actions like cross-departmental planning and learning from other countries can help NI scale up biomethane production and injection.
- CCC updates estimate AD and biomethane could reduce NI emissions by 0.8 MtCO2e by 2050.
- Producing and using biomethane from anaerobic digestion can reduce net greenhouse gas emissions in three key ways:
- Upgrading biogas to biomethane separates out the CO2, which can be permanently sequestered, achieving greenhouse gas removal.
- Biomethane can displace fossil natural gas in the gas network, avoiding those fossil fuel emissions. However, this is an interim measure before transitioning to low-carbon alternatives.
- Once fossil gas is fully displaced, any remaining biomethane should be used for power or hydrogen production with CCS to capture and sequester the CO2, achieving further greenhouse gas removal.
To provide feedback and insight on the consultation, email Wasundara via firstname.lastname@example.org