The project, which has a capacity of 4.6MW, is Michelin’s second wind park constructed by green energy company Ecotricity, who installed two windmills at the company’s Dundee tyre factory in 2006.

Factory manager at Michelin Ballymena, Wilton Crawford, said: “The wind turbines are a welcome asset for Michelin in Ballymena, and will help alleviate the challenge of increased energy costs, particularly as energy prices in Northern Ireland far surpass those in Europe”.

According to Ecotrticity, the Ballymena windmills will generate enough clean, green electricity to power the equivalent of about three and a half thousand homes every year.

Ecotricity founder, Dale Vince, said: “Building wind power on-site and supplying it directly to a factory not only cuts carbon emissions, but because you don’t need to transport the electricity via the grid – it cuts energy costs too.

“This is a way to make businesses more competitive and more environmentally sustainable at the same time,” added Vince.

Ecotricity’s two turbines at Michelin’s Dundee site have already produced more than 43 million units (kWh) of energy since being commissioned in 2006, which is enough electricity to power over ten and a half thousand average homes, keep an iPad going for over 3 and a half million years, or drive an electric car (Nissan LEAF) around the equator over six thousand times.

Last year, Michelin embarked on a nationwide reverse logistics drive for its used tyres in the UK, resulting in massive cost savings for its waste disposal operations.

Earlier this month, Ecotricity secured permission for a 22 turbine site in Heckington Fen in Lincolnshire, England, and announced that they had reached 70,000 green energy customers.

Leigh Stringer

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