Northern Ireland opens funding program for biomass heat, power

By Erin Voegele | September 13, 2012

Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reopening the EU co-financed Biomass Processing Challenge Fund. According to information released by the department, the fund aims to encourage agriculture and forestry business to install biomass-fueled technologies, primarily to aid farm-level agricultural activities. The fund can contribute up to 40 percent of the cost of an eligible project, up to a £320,000 ($515,000) per project.

Eligible projects must be physically installed, and operated within Northern Ireland. Farmers can apply for funds individually, or as a group. To be eligible for the program, applicants must demonstrate how they will meet at least two of four sustainable objectives. The four options include the improvement of business efficiency through the production of renewable energy from biomass at farm level, the utilization of cost effective and sustainable methods of agricultural waste processing or other agricultural biomass materials to generate on-farm energy, the enhancement of existing farming activities by the processing of biomass into renewable energy and value-added products, and environmental improvement through the project due to reduction in fossil fuel use.

Technologies eligible for the program include biomass boilers with more than 30 kW of thermal output, combined-heat-and-power systems fueled with biomass, anaerobic digestion systems, or other proven technologies that use biomass to generate heat and/or power.

Biomass feedstocks that comply with the program include purpose-grown energy crops, woody biomass from forestry operations, arboricultural/horticultural tree management operations or primary processing, certain wood waste and residues, agricultural residues and grasses, cereal and corn silage. Other sources of biomass feedstock may also qualify.

Applications for the program will be accepted until Nov. 30. Additional information on the application process and requirements can be downloaded from the DARD website.