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Determining the regional potential for a grass biomethane industry


  • Smyth, Beatrice M.
  • Smyth, Henry
  • Murphy, Jerry D.


Grass biogas/biomethane has been put forward as a renewable energy solution and it has been shown to perform well in terms of energy balance, greenhouse gas emissions and policy constraints. Biofuel and energy crop solutions are country-specific and grass biomethane has strong potential in countries with temperate climates and a high proportion of grassland, such as Ireland. For a grass biomethane industry to develop in a country, suitable regions (i.e. those with the highest potential) must be identified. In this paper, factors specifically related to the assessment of the potential of a grass biogas/biomethane industry are identified and analysed. The potential for grass biogas and grass biomethane is determined on a county-by-county basis using multi-criteria decision analysis. Values are assigned to each county and ratings and weightings applied to determine the overall county potential. The potential for grass biomethane with co-digestion of slaughter waste (belly grass) is also determined. The county with the highest potential (Limerick) is analysed in detail and is shown to have ready potential for production of gaseous biofuel to meet either 50% of the vehicle fleet or 130% of the domestic natural gas demand, through 25 facilities at a scale of ca. 30 kt yr-1 of feedstock. The assessment factors developed in this paper can be used in other resource studies into grass biomethane or other energy crops.

Suggested Citation

  • Smyth, Beatrice M. & Smyth, Henry & Murphy, Jerry D., 2011. "Determining the regional potential for a grass biomethane industry," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 88(6), pages 2037-2049, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:88:y:2011:i:6:p:2037-2049

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Van Hoesen, John & Letendre, Steven, 2010. "Evaluating potential renewable energy resources in Poultney, Vermont: A GIS-based approach to supporting rural community energy planning," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 2114-2122.
    2. Wang, Jiang-Jiang & Jing, You-Yin & Zhang, Chun-Fa & Zhao, Jun-Hong, 2009. "Review on multi-criteria decision analysis aid in sustainable energy decision-making," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 13(9), pages 2263-2278, December.
    3. Singh, Anoop & Smyth, Beatrice M. & Murphy, Jerry D., 2010. "A biofuel strategy for Ireland with an emphasis on production of biomethane and minimization of land-take," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 277-288, January.
    4. Murphy, J.D. & Power, N., 2009. "Technical and economic analysis of biogas production in Ireland utilising three different crop rotations," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 25-36, January.
    5. Smyth, Beatrice M. & Murphy, Jerry D. & O'Brien, Catherine M., 2009. "What is the energy balance of grass biomethane in Ireland and other temperate northern European climates?," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 13(9), pages 2349-2360, December.
    6. Murphy, J.D. & McCarthy, K., 2005. "The optimal production of biogas for use as a transport fuel in Ireland," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 30(14), pages 2111-2127.
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    Cited by:

    1. Huopana, Tuomas & Song, Han & Kolehmainen, Mikko & Niska, Harri, 2013. "A regional model for sustainable biogas electricity production: A case study from a Finnish province," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 676-686.
    2. O’Shea, Richard & Kilgallon, Ian & Wall, David & Murphy, Jerry D., 2016. "Quantification and location of a renewable gas industry based on digestion of wastes in Ireland," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 175(C), pages 229-239.
    3. Sultana, Arifa & Kumar, Amit, 2012. "Optimal siting and size of bioenergy facilities using geographic information system," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 192-201.
    4. repec:eee:rensus:v:74:y:2017:i:c:p:1257-1274 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gallagher, Cathal & Murphy, Jerry D., 2013. "What is the realistic potential for biomethane produced through gasification of indigenous Willow or imported wood chip to meet renewable energy heat targets?," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 158-167.
    6. O’Shea, Richard & Wall, David & Kilgallon, Ian & Murphy, Jerry D., 2016. "Assessment of the impact of incentives and of scale on the build order and location of biomethane facilities and the feedstock they utilise," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 182(C), pages 394-408.
    7. Höhn, J. & Lehtonen, E. & Rasi, S. & Rintala, J., 2014. "A Geographical Information System (GIS) based methodology for determination of potential biomasses and sites for biogas plants in southern Finland," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 1-10.
    8. Van Meerbeek, Koenraad & Ottoy, Sam & De Meyer, Annelies & Van Schaeybroeck, Tom & Van Orshoven, Jos & Muys, Bart & Hermy, Martin, 2015. "The bioenergy potential of conservation areas and roadsides for biogas in an urbanized region," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 742-751.
    9. Budzianowski, Wojciech M., 2012. "Negative carbon intensity of renewable energy technologies involving biomass or carbon dioxide as inputs," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(9), pages 6507-6521.
    10. Vo, Truc T.Q. & Xia, Ao & Wall, David M. & Murphy, Jerry D., 2017. "Use of surplus wind electricity in Ireland to produce compressed renewable gaseous transport fuel through biological power to gas systems," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 495-504.
    11. Oniszk-Popławska, Anna & Matyka, Mariusz & Ryńska, Elżbieta Dagny, 2014. "Evaluation of a long-term potential for the development of agricultural biogas plants: A case study for the Lubelskie Province, Poland," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 329-349.
    12. Chang, Hung-Hao & Chen, Yu-Hui, 2011. "Are participators in the land retirement program likely to grow energy crops?," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 88(9), pages 3183-3188.
    13. repec:eee:renene:v:118:y:2018:i:c:p:602-614 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:eee:energy:v:134:y:2017:i:c:p:681-698 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Franco, Camilo & Bojesen, Mikkel & Hougaard, Jens Leth & Nielsen, Kurt, 2015. "A fuzzy approach to a multiple criteria and Geographical Information System for decision support on suitable locations for biogas plants," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 304-315.
    16. Grima-Olmedo, C. & Ramírez-Gómez, Á. & Alcalde-Cartagena, R., 2014. "Energetic performance of landfill and digester biogas in a domestic cooker," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 301-308.
    17. Murphy, Jerry D. & Browne, James & Allen, Eoin & Gallagher, Cathal, 2013. "The resource of biomethane, produced via biological, thermal and electrical routes, as a transport biofuel," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 474-479.
    18. Thamsiriroj, T. & Smyth, H. & Murphy, J.D., 2011. "A roadmap for the introduction of gaseous transport fuel: A case study for renewable natural gas in Ireland," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(9), pages 4642-4651.
    19. Yeo, In-Ae & Yoon, Seong-Hwan & Yee, Jurng-Jae, 2013. "Development of an Environment and energy Geographical Information System (E-GIS) construction model to support environmentally friendly urban planning," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 723-739.
    20. O'Shea, Richard & Wall, David M. & Kilgallon, Ian & Browne, James D. & Murphy, Jerry D., 2017. "Assessing the total theoretical, and financially viable, resource of biomethane for injection to a natural gas network in a region," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 237-256.
    21. repec:eee:renene:v:114:y:2017:i:pb:p:1090-1100 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Jennings, Mark & Fisk, David & Shah, Nilay, 2014. "Modelling and optimization of retrofitting residential energy systems at the urban scale," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 220-233.


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