Northern Ireland poultry litter biomass plant approved


A 30-megawatt biomass power plant proposed for County Antrim in Northern Ireland is much closer to fruition, having gained approval from Northern Ireland Environment Minister Edwin Poots.

The £100 million pounds ($158 million) plant will run on 220,000 metric tons (242,500 tons) per year of poultry litter, along with 40,000 metric tons of meat and bone meal (MBM), according to developer Rose Energy Ltd. The electricity it produces, enough to power 25,000 homes, will be sold to the national grid, according to Osvaldo Mauro-Hun, Rose Energy chief executive.

“The decision by the Northern Ireland environment minister to approve the plans represents a major step forward for the country’s capacity to produce renewable energy,” he said. “Rose Energy will generate a third of the nonwind portion of Northern Ireland’s renewable energy obligations and allow it to utilize valuable biomass fuel sources locally, thereby contributing to a more secure energy future for the region.”

The location, about 20 miles from Northern Ireland’s capital city of Belfast, was chosen from a pool of 38 possibilities, partially because of its close proximity to the MBM source, situated next to the plant site, Mauro-Hun said. MBM is currently exported from Northern Ireland for use as a green fuel in biomass plants and cement kilns, but Rose Energy’s plant will allow it to be used locally instead. The poultry litter feedstock, composed of wood shavings and poultry droppings, will come from farmers who supply Moy Park Ltd., which sells its own label and customer-branded chicken products to leading retail food service customers across Europe. Other reasons for selecting the site include its close proximity to a water source, and its ability to strengthen the electricity infrastructure in an area that is currently deficient.

The poultry industry is Northern Ireland’s second largest and accounts for about 7,000 jobs, Mauro-Hun said. This biomass power project will help protect those jobs and will also defer thousands of tons of poultry litter destined for landfill spread, according to the company. The construction industry in the region will also benefit from the project, which will ensure about £15 million worth of civil works packages and about £10 million of mechanical and electrical money through locally based companies, he said.

Between June 2008 and August 2010, the Northern Ireland Planning Authorities carried out a detailed and extensive review of Rose Energy’s proposal, coming to the conclusion that it should be given the go ahead, Mauro-Hun said. “In doing so, the planning authorities also recognized the robustness of the proposal and have shown that they are fully confident that all aspects of the proposal—technology, location, fuel availability, health, traffic—have been properly addressed by Rose Energy,” he added.

The company has applied for government funding, but does not yet know if it will receive any. The remaining portion of the expenses will be privately funded by the consortium, he said. Rose Energy did not release a construction commencement date, but said it is committed to beginning the construction phase as soon as possible and expects it to last about 2½ years.