The two plants are expected to generate enough renewable energy to power 1,700 households for a year and the reduction in greenhouse gasses will be the equivalent to taking 2,000 cars off the road for a year.

The plans were first announced as part of a report signed by the Prime Minister David Cameron and Northern Irish First Minister Peter Robinson on Tuesday (2 July). The report, ‘Building a Prosperous and United Community: One Year On’, outlined economic plans and progress for Northern Ireland and included announcement of these new investments by the GIB.

The projects in Cookstown, County Tyrone, and Banbridge, County Down, will be used on-site by local livestock farmers. The AD plants will produce gas for the national grid as well as digestate – a natural by-product which can be used as a fertiliser.

Rural economy

GIB chief executive Shaun Kingsbury said: “Today’s announcement is a textbook example of the types of project we should be seeing all across the UK.

“It’s economically important, injecting £6.5m into the rural economy in Northern Ireland and generating 22 new jobs. It’s green, turning farm waste into renewable energy and fertiliser. And it’s good for the local farming community, earning and saving them money.

“Northern Ireland has taken a real lead in this fast-emerging technology, so we were delighted to help get these new projects moving and stand ready to back other community-based, green projects like them across the UK.”

The projects will be partly funded by just over £3m by the GIB-backed fund Foresight UK, with additional investment coming from Northern Irish engineering firm William Industrial Services, which specialises in wastewater treatment and the bioenergy market.

Each of the on-site projects will generate 3,600 MWh a year for the national grid and remove 18,500 tonnes of waste from local farms. Combined, the two plants will cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 4,500 tCO2e.

Vital role

The GIB has made a number of major investments in AD plants. In March, edie reported the opening of London’s first commercial-scale anaerobic digestion plant, which followed a £2m investment by GIB in late 2012.

Rural Affairs Minister Dan Rogerson said: “I am delighted that the Green Investment Bank has invested in these two excellent projects, this is further evidence of the vital role the GIB has to play in building a stronger, greener economy.”

The funding was welcomed by Banbridge Farm project manager Thomas Cromie, who stated: “We are delighted to secure funding from the Green Investment Bank for our on-farm AD plant, having been developing the project for over six years. This project will diversify and improve the economic sustainability of our farming operations, while providing better utilisation of farm wastes and reducing the CO2 footprint of our enterprise.”

The announcement comes as the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) released a new report, stating that the UK’s AD capacity has doubled since 2010.

Matt Field

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