The Benefits of Anaerobic Digestion
Anaerobic Digestion has an important role to play in the fight against climate change as it can be used to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG’s) which Ireland has international commitments to decrease. By diverting organic waste from landfill Anaerobic Digestion can be used to reduce the uncontrolled emissions of methane as the waste breaks down.
Biogas containing methane is a valuable by-product of Anaerobic Digestion which can be used in the production of renewable energy which displaces fossil fuel energy. Biogas can be converted to energy via a Combined Heat & Power Plant (CHP). Electricity generated from the CHP process can be used in neighbouring industrial or commercial enterprises or can be fed into the national grid. Surplus heat generated can be used in industrial processes or for district heating systems.
Energy sourced from Anaerobic Digestion will diversify the national fuel mix, hence reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, the price of which are subject to global energy market trends, and providing energy security of supply benefits.
Anaerobic Digestion is an efficient and environmentally sustainable technology that can make a significant contribution to the management of organic wastes in Ireland. The EU’s Landfill Directive will increasingly prohibit the disposal of organic waste to landfill. Anaerobic Digestion recovers the energy from organic waste and produces a material that is suitable for landspreading. The digestate produced from the process is free from contaminants, pathogens and odour and has a rich nutrient content.
The nutrient rich digestate has a variety of uses, such as spreading on land for agricultural purposes, horticultural uses, soil cover for landfill sites or for land remediation purposes.
Anaerobic Digestion has the potential to deliver multiple environmental benefits including the improvement of air quality through odour reduction and reduced emissions of ammonia and oxides of nitrogen. It also has water quality benefits as it reduces organic pollution potential and destroys pathogenic and faecal micro-organisms.