What was the challenge/ problem that was addressed? Why is it important for the partnership to solve the problem?
Farm-scale biogas projects tend to be smaller in size (<100kW or equivalent gas output) and not import any off-farm waste. These developments at farm-scale have proved challenging in Ireland and are not common compared to other countries. There are many barriers to overcome, including knowledge-gaps, and the availability of cost effective solutions at a smaller scale. Also, there has been a lack of non-electricity routes to market for biogas. Apart from the energy on-farm benefits, the wider deployment of anaerobic Digestion (AD) would make a valuable contribution towards national targets for renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions reductions (so-called “non-ETS” emissions). The project is structured around a work plan typical of other research or innovation actions, where distinct work packages are designed and assigned to project participants to deliver. Two slightly different approaches are proposed and described as separate work packages.
How did you solve the problem? (or if your practical case is still in progress how are you solving the problem?)
Due to potential conflict of interest in procurement, technology providing stakeholders have not been engaged within the operational group, but have a strong vested interest in the successful outcome of the project. Teagasc has experience of involvement in successful research programmes. Anaerobic digestion (AD) technology is not widespread in Ireland, despite being commercially available technology, with many thousands of successful examples internationally. There is a lot of knowledge of the potential of AD at medium to large scale but not at small scale.
What is innovative in your practical case? (e.g. technological innovation, new product or service, market innovations, social/organisational innovations etc.)
The practical case looks at how an operational group might help a group of farmers to add value to their business and green credentials through small scale gas production
What are the success factors in solving the problem?
The handful of projects in Ireland so far tend to be medium to large scale plants, which process non-farm waste and produce electricity for export to the grid under a feed-in-tariff. (e.g. Shanagolden 500kW, Nurney 1,000 kW, Ormonde Organics 1,000 kW). Farm-scale projects tend to be smaller in size (<100kW or equivalent gas output) and not import any off-farm waste. To deploy at farm-scale there are many barriers to overcome, including knowledge-gaps, and availability of cost effective solutions at smaller scale. Also there has been a lack of non-electricity routes to market for the biogas.
It is difficult for farmers and advisors to take on small scale investment in biogas without a lot of support, technology, experience, market knowledge and finance.
What role does the advisor or advisory service play within the practical case?
The advisor partook in frequent communication with clients through office consultations, on-farm visits, phone calls, as well as partaking in presentations and training events. The information was further disseminated by the advisor through training events such as workshops.
Can your approach be transferred and/or adapted for other innovation challenges and regions?
Please estimate transferability in a scale from 1 to 5
(where 1 is easy and 5 very difficult)
For sharing the experience on the good practice, please contact Barry Caslin (barry.caslin[at]teagasc.ie)