Corrib gas field operator expands into biogas

Nephin Energy announces new biomethane business

Corrib natural gasfield operator Nephin Energy aims to become the Republic’s biggest producer of biomethane through a new business.

The company on Thursday launched Nephin Renewable Gas (NRG), a new venture that will process farm waste into biomethane for use in agriculture, manufacturing and transport.

With its headquarters in Tipperary town, the business plans to build and operate a network of waste processors, known as anaerobic digesters, across the Republic to produce the gas. Its use is already well established in Europe.

Tom O’Brien, Nephin’s managing director, said the group would build on its position as Ireland’s biggest natural gas company to aid it in realising its renewables ambition.


“We look forward to making a meaningful investment in Ireland’s rural economies and partnering with farmers to give them a real opportunity to benefit from the green energy transition,” he added.

Launching the new business, Simon Coveney, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, said producing the gas “at scale” would make a significant contribution to cutting carbon dioxide emissions.

Nephin’s owner, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, is backing the venture. Dr Tony Yates, one of the leading figures in the industry in Ireland and Britain, is the new company’s managing director.

Mr O’Brien told the gathering at the launch that, despite EU figures confirming that the Republic potentially had the best biomethane resources in Europe, along with a big market for the fuel in the pharmaceutical, technology and manufacturing industries, the gas remained under-exploited here.

He said the technology was already proven. Europe has almost 20,000 anaerobic digesters.

Mr O’Brien said that in Denmark, one of Europe’s leading producers, biomethane provides up to 40 per cent of gas needed every month. The country hopes to boost this to 100 per cent by 2030.

“To realise our ambitions for NRG and for the industry in Ireland we will need to work hand in glove with rural communities and farmers like those here in Tipperary,” he said.

The new business will give farmers who provide the waste feedstock used to make the gas with a reliable, long-term income. Along with that, biomethane processing also produces a natural fertiliser that is less harmful to the environment than the widely used synthetic products.

The business will also aid rural communities by boosting employment and economic activity.

Nationally, NRG says that biomethane will provide a reliable source of energy that will cut carbon output and reduce the Republic’s growing dependence on natural gas imports. It will also aid farming in meeting stringent targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent.

“Gas powered nearly half of Ireland’s electricity and heating requirements in 2023,” said Mr O’Brien. “In many parts of industry, gas is the only fuel efficient enough to satisfy the high thermal demand that many businesses in pharma, tech and agri-food have.”

He added that experts agreed that gas – in one form or another – would continue to contribute to Irish energy needs to 2050 and beyond that date.

Mr Coveney predicted that as well as benefiting the environment, NRG would “benefit rural communities across Ireland by generating jobs and creating new revenue streams for farmers”.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas