Around 300,000 Irish homes could be heated for a year by the natural gas produced from grass and household waste. A new study by Bord Gais, the Irish gas board, reveals that at least seven and a half percent of Ireland's annual natural gas demand could be met by processing waste into cheap, green and renewable energy.

Bio-gas is produced when organic waste such as grass is processed in a sealed environment and converted into natural gas. Once processed, the gas can then be injected directly into the national gas network for use in homes, or can be used as transport fuel.

The new study suggests that the so-called green gas could produce enough power for 300,000 homes. Already used in Sweden, Germany and Denmark, it helps reduce the importation of fossil fuels and can help tackle climate change.

The Irish Government has set ambitious targets to increase the amount of power produced from renewable sources such as bio-gas, wind and wave power. By 2020, it wants ten percent of all transport fuel to be from renewable sources such as bio-gas and up to twelve percent of heating power should be renewable.

But the process would be costly and significant capital expenditure would be required to build the gas processing plants, and that the technology would be largely dependent on financial supports, at least in the short-term.

The total investment cost would be 1.4 billion euro. Each plant would require three employees, but jobs would also be created in haulage and technology development.

However, with 640,000 customers already using natural gas, there would be no need to build a distribution system. Bord Gais said obstacles to developing the industry, including setting a price for feeding the gas into the national grid, could be overcome.

'Capturing this renewable gas resource would be a considerable step in addressing Ireland's challenging renewable energy and waste management objectives," Bord Gais chief executive John Mullins told the press. 'It would also help reduce our dependence on energy imports, provide jobs in the construction and operation of biomethane plants, and create new business opportunities.'