Which is the preferable biogas utilisation technology for anaerobic digestion of agricultural crops in Ireland: Biogas to CHP or biomethane as a transport fuel?
Civil and Environmental Engineering
The utilisation of anaerobic digestion to produce biogas as an energy source is a mature technology in many European countries but is yet to be developed in Ireland. In 2009, the EU issued the Renewable Energy Source Directive 2009/28/EC which requires a 20% share of renewable energy sources (heat and electricity) in final energy consumption for all member states, respectively, including a 10% share of biofuels in the transport sector by 2020. The introduction of biogas to produce power and electricity in the form of CHP technology and biomethane as a transport fuel can help Ireland achieve the mandatory targets set by the directive. The key focus of the paper is to determine the optimum small to medium scale biogas technology and the impact the introduction of that technology infrastructure will have on renewable energy targets for Ireland. In terms of feedstock, agricultural sources such as energy crops and slurry offer a sustainable input to the anaerobic digestion process. The crop rotations under consideration consist of different arrangements of grass silage, maize silage and barley. Grass silage is found to be the most suitable crop for biogas energy production while biogas upgrading to biomethane as a transport fuel has the optimum technology potential in Ireland. To fuel a car operating on biomethane, 0.22 ha of grass land is required annually. Full scale national development of 5% of the area under grass in Ireland will contribute 11.4% of renewable energy to the total final transport energy demand by 2020, surpassing the target set by the Renewable Energy Source Directive 2009/28/EC.
Goulding, D. & Power, N., 2013. Which is the preferable biogas utilisation technology for anaerobic digestion of agricultural crops in Ireland: Biogas to CHP or biomethane as a transport fuel? Renewable Energy, 53, pp.121–131. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2012.11.001.