Biomethane and Hydrogen Availability

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 5th October 2021.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 2:30 pm, 5th October 2021

I thank the Member for his question. Northern Ireland can lead the hydrogen revolution that is needed to ensure that we have renewable energy sources that are close to home, sustainable and future-proofed. My Department works to encourage such opportunities. Having the capacity to produce 45% of our energy from renewable sources gives us tremendous opportunities to utilise that energy for hydrogen production. That energy is not generated at night because the wind turbines are switched off then. Utilising them at night to produce hydrogen would be using, at no extra expense, a resource that already exists. That is entirely logical.

Taking farms down the route of anaerobic digestion — I would press to do that, in the main, from slurry — will lead to our being in the position to extract methane. That methane, mixed with hydrogen, can go into our pipes, and Firmus Energy and Phoenix Natural Gas are keen to use it. We will be able to feed and heat our homes with it. That makes sense for all of us in Northern Ireland, because we will have fuel security and — pretty much — food security, and we will ensure that we have it at a consistent price rather than being subject to the variations of world gas and oil prices.