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Plan to turn grass into gas in the pipeline

SOURCES of renewable gas could be growing just outside your door.

A new report carried out on behalf of Bord Gais has discovered that at least 7.5pc of Ireland's natural gas could be supplied using grass and waste.

The study says the "grass to gas" conversion process could provide enough natural gas to heat the equivalent of 300,000 Irish homes per year. This study, entitled 'The Future of Renewable Gas in Ireland' carried out by University College Cork (UCC) and Ernst and Young, says the biomethane industry could make a significant contribution to the 'green tech' sector in Ireland.

Once the renewable gas is created it can then be used locally or piped into the national grid for distribution.

Dr Jerry Murphy, Principle Investigator in Bioenergy and Biofuels, Environmental Research Institute, UCC, explained: "Biogas is produced when feedstocks, such as organic wastes, and energy crops, such as grass silage, are converted using anaerobic digestion technology."

The 'raw' biogas can then be cleaned and upgraded to biomethane -- renewable gas -- and injected into national gas grid," he said.

Bord Gais Chief Executive, John Mullins said it would help reduce dependence on energy imports, provide jobs in the construction and operation of biomethane plants, and create new business opportunities among the farming community.

The company said while there are obstacles to making renewable gas a viable energy source here, it believes that they can be overcome in a relatively short timeframe.

The green technology is widely in use in other European countries, such as Denmark and Germany where farmers have formed cooperatives together to help finance, build and run renewable gas facilities.

Stockholm in Sweden treats municipal waste to create natural gas for use as a transport fuel. A biogas-powered train has been in service since 2005.