Working with its fund manager Foresight Group (Foresight), the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) announced on Wednesday investment into two projects to construct anaerobic digestion plants on farms in Northern Ireland. These are expected to be the first of several, similar projects in the region.
The projects, in Cookstown, County Tyrone and Banbridge, County Down, will be used by local livestock farmers and have been developed alongside their advisors, KPMG.
The two projects announced today will generate enough renewable energy to power 1700 households for a year. The reduction in greenhouse gas production from the projects will be equivalent to taking 2000 cars off the road for a year.
Anaerobic digestion is one of the most promising renewable energy technologies in Northern Ireland, with eight plants currently operational and the potential for this to grow to over 50 in the coming years.
Farmers: PAR Renewables, a group of three livestock farmers in Cookstown, will provide waste to fuel the plant from their farms. They already share infrastructure and machinery and have a long history of cooperation. The plant will sit on their land.
Total investment: £3m
Investors: £1.5m from Foresight's UK Waste Resources and Energy Investments (UKWREI) Fund, cornerstoned by the UK Green Investment Bank, and £1.5m from Williams Industrial Services, a local engineering company, which is EPC and O&M contractor to the project.
Farmer: James Cromie, dairy farmer in Banbridge, will provide waste to fuel the plant (alongside two neighbouring farmers). The plant will sit on his land.
Total investment: £3.5m
Investors: £1.7m from Foresight's UK Waste Resources and Energy Investments Fund (cornerstoned by the UK Green Investment Bank) and £1.7m from Williams Industrial Services.
Shaun Kingsbury, Chief Executive, UK Green Investment Bank, 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."
Resources Management 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.
"Anaerobic digestion is the unsung hero of the renewables industry; it diverts waste from landfill and generates clean, renewable energy. Given the technology's flexibility it's also a great way for farmers to secure additional income from manures and slurries alongside food waste."
Philip Kent, Senior Investment Manager, Foresight Group, said:
"Foresight is pleased to have worked with GIB, KPMG and Williams Industrial Services to develop a platform for the development of small-scale anaerobic digestion facilities, which we hope will be applied to multiple projects across Northern Ireland over the coming months. The Cookstown and Banbridge projects represent excellent examples of farmers working together to deliver fundable propositions and we will be working closely with them as the projects progress through construction, accreditation and operations."
Russell Smyth, Director, KPMG Belfast said:
"Despite being one of Northern Ireland's most promising renewable technologies, local farmers and developers have to date found it challenging to secure appropriate funding. KPMG is therefore delighted to have supported the development of this dedicated funding platform, which has been developed from the ground up to meet the specific needs and objectives of Northern Ireland farmers and developers. We now look forward to rolling out this funding solution across our wider client base".
John Toner, Group Chairman and CEO of WIS Group said:
"We are delighted to be working with along with Foresight, GIB, KPMG, Par Renewables and Bridge Energy Finance to deliver the first two GIB funded plants in N. Ireland. Anaerobic Digestion represents a tremendous and sustainable revenue opportunity not only for the NI Agricultural Community but also the wider UK agricultural sector. We are very pleased to have been selected as the Technology of Choice, and exceptionally proud that the investment in this project will continue to support local Northern Ireland jobs.