Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is the process which involves the breakdown of organic material by bacteria in an oxygen-free environment to create biogas. Farm, municipal and industrial based plants convert waste material into biogas. Agricultural wastes (animal residues, sewage sludge) and industrial waste (food/canteen waste, waste vegetable oils) are the most common feedstocks used in the AD conversion process. Waste material is fed into a digester which contains bacteria. The digester is a closed container and contains zero oxygen. The biogas produced is used for heat and power and the process residue can then be used as a fertiliser.
Currently in the Rep. of Ireland, there are only six anaerobic digestion plants, mostly in the south and south-east of the country, this is compared with 26 in Northern Ireland. Some of the reasons for the low level of plants in the ROI include a complex planning and licensing system with 8 different permissions required, grid connection costs, unattractive electricity tariffs, financing issues and uncertainty in waste policy. This is an area which has potential to grow, with the help of policy development and financial incentives to support the industry.
More information on the anaerobic digestion process can be found on the BioPAD website at https://www.biopad.eu/tool/?fueltype=other-biomass and on the IrBEA website at http://www.irbea.ie/index.php/anaerobic-digestion
Cré, the Composting and Anaerobic Digestion Association of Ireland, are holding their annual conference ‘New Directions & Implications’ on 8th September in the Killashee House Hotel, in Naas Co. Kildare. Discussions at this will include, the New Waste Legislation Changes; The Export of Waste; The Regional Waste Plans Process; The Draft Bioenergy Strategy for Anaerobic Digestion; Brown Bin Awareness Raising Initiatives and a R&D forum. For further details on this conference, please go to http://www.cre.ie/web/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Cre-Conference-September-8.pdf