Flynn's Irish Tomatoes Go Green with Renewable Gas

Ireland's largest tomato grower, MF Nurseries has switched to renewable gas under a new trial project with Gas Networks Ireland. MF Nurseries, which trades as Flynn's Irish Tomatoes, continues to lead the way in agri-food sustainability as it switches from growing its renowned red tomatoes with natural gas to renewable gas in the company's innovative greenhouse system.
Courtesy of MF Nurseries

MF Nurseries will receive a formal certification from Gas Networks Ireland to show that the gas it is using is renewable.  

Almost 90% of MF Nurseries carbon emissions are captured and absorbed by the tomato plants in its innovative greenhouse system. The renewable gas will offset the remaining 10%.

The renewable gas, known as biomethane, is a carbon neutral gas being produced from farm and food waste by Green Generation in Nurney, Co. Kildare, and injected into the national gas network via a dedicated renewable gas entry point in Cush, Co. Kildare.

MF Nurseries Managing Director, Martin Flynn, said introducing renewable gas into the food production process allows the company to deliver on its business sustainability objectives.

"The food production and agri-food sector are energy intensive sectors by nature, and our customers want to see the steps we are taking to reduce our carbon footprint," Flynn said.

"This is coupled with growing pressure from major retailers who want to see real movement and effort to reduce emissions across the supply chain.

"In 2020, we undertook a major investment programme and as part of carbon reduction plans within the redevelopment of our business, we built a connection to the national gas network.

"Following great success and positive engagement with Gas Networks Ireland, we are delighted to trial the renewable gas as another way to demonstrate our eagerness to future proofing our business and reduce carbon emissions, now and into the future.

"Switching to natural gas – and now to renewable gas - in tandem with our own natural carbon-capture process, is helping us to achieve that in a very organic way."

This is the latest step in the agri-food leaders' sustainable energy journey.

MF Nurseries invested €1.8m in a major expansion of its tomato growing facility at Balheary, Swords, Co. Dublin in 2020, which included the development of two new greenhouse facilities spread over three acres, and a two-kilometre connection to the national gas network.

Gas Networks Ireland's Large Industrial and Commercial Sales Manager, Sean Crowley, said there has been significant growth in demand from businesses looking to source sustainable and indigenous fuel alternatives.

"Introducing renewable gas through the natural gas connection means MF Nurseries is already set-up to be powered by renewable gas," Crowley said.

"Using biomethane requires minimal investment in new infrastructure, as it can be transported through the existing gas network, which is one of the safest and most modern gas networks in Europe.

"By gradually replacing natural gas with renewable and carbon neutral gases such as biomethane and hydrogen, businesses like MF Nurseries can be powered by increasingly cleaner energy."

Gas Networks Ireland is the body responsible for both supervision and issuing guarantees of origin for current and new renewable gases under new EU regulations.

Each certificate represents Gas Networks Ireland's guarantee that the equivalent amount of renewable gas has been injected into the gas network.

By providing an objective means of tracking the commercial transactions of renewable gas through the supply chain, Ireland's Renewable Gas Registry will help establish trust in the market and confidence in the renewable gas sector, supporting the expansion of production, providing certainty for customers and providing an incentive for gas producers to inject renewable gas into the network.

"The expansion of clean renewable gas will help Ireland reduce its reliance on imported fossil fuels," Crowley said.

"MF Nurseries is leading in terms of sustainability and we are proud and delighted to be part of their journey".

MF Nurseries was established in 2014 and now employs 25 people across a range of disciplines.

 The company is a major supplier of tomatoes to the Irish retail market and will supply over 10 million packs of the Flynn's Irish Tomatoes range to Aldi stores nationwide over a period of five years, with a range of varieties including Vine, Plum, Piccolo, Sunstream, Baby Vine, Cherry Vine and Rainbow Mix.

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