Natural Gas network critical to achieving net zero by 2050

Peter Bayne


Peter Bayne


Monday 1 February 2021 6:53

SENIOR firmus energy representatives met with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council on Monday the 26th to outline how its existing ‘Ten Towns’ natural gas network of pipes can help wider efforts to reach net zero carbon by transporting renewable gases in the form of Biomethane or Hydrogen directly to domestic and business customers in the Council Area.

Each household converting from oil to natural gas emits 48%1 less carbon dioxide and natural gas is already reducing emissions in the local area by almost 18,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

Councillors heard that if all the local properties that currently have access to the firmus network were to convert to natural gas the total reduction in carbon dioxide emissions would increase by over 39,000 tonnes to an estimated total of 57,000 tonnes each year.

firmus energy has already invested £13.5m building its local natural gas network in Newry, Mourne and Down, and plans to invest another £2.5m in 2021. The company currently supplies over 3,800 customers in the local area and recent investment means an additional 10,000 homes and businesses are now able to upgrade from oil to natural gas.

Council members also heard that carbon savings will grow significantly when renewable gases such as biomethane and hydrogen are injected into the network.

Speaking remotely to Wednesday’s Council meeting firmus energy Managing Director Michael Scott said it is vital that we realise the full potential of the natural gas network, “First and foremost, we need to maximise the number of properties converting from oil to natural gas. By the end of 2022 an estimated 550,000 Northern Ireland properties will have access to the network and 320,000 of those will be connected. Connecting the remaining 230,000 will deliver a further 1.7million tonnes in carbon savings each year.

“By introducing biomethane from Anaerobic Digestion into the existing network to displace natural gas we can simultaneously improve the environmental credentials of the gas we use and improve the sustainability of local agriculture. Using renewable hydrogen instead of natural gas would remove carbon from the network entirely.

“Significant carbon savings can also be realised in transport by transitioning away from heavy diesel oil to compressed natural gas. CNG can be used by a wide range of commercial vehicles which aren’t best suited to electrification such as HGVs, lorries and buses and connecting CNG refueling stations to the existing network will help optimize use of the network further.”

firmus energy started constructing its 1,600km ‘Ten Towns’ network in 2005 and it now reaches 35 cities, towns and villages in Northern Ireland stretching from Warrenpoint to its head office in Antrim and on to Derry/Londonderry.

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