Farm Ireland

Saturday 20 January 2018

Gold takes to biomass

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Connacht Gold is set to become the first Irish creamery to embrace biomass when it switches 75pc of its energy requirements in the next year.

The move will slash €2m from the energy bill at its Ballaghadereen plant.

Speaking at the Teagasc Bioenergy Conference in Athlone last week, Connacht Gold's Marty Devin said the board of the creamery was com-mitted to moving ahead with the plan to switch from 100pc oil to 75pc biomass and 25pc oil.

"At the moment, the plant is burning seven million litres of oil at a cost of 60c/l," he said. "We can cut the cost by 50pc by switching to 75pc biomass."

The biomass will consist of waste wood from sawmills at Corr Na Mona, Co Galway that is partly owned by the co-op.

Mr Devin said the project was at the planning stage and would have a lead time of about a year before the system would be fully operational.

He added that several southern-based co-ops were also considering a biomass switch.

"Once we get going, they won't be long after us," he said.

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Meanwhile, bioenergy guru John Gilliland told the conference that the industry needed more champions to promote the benefits of switching to biomass to cut energy bills.

"Gurteen Agricultural College in Co Tipperary has switched to biomass, and it cost €38,000 to heat the entire college last year, versus €160,000 in oil," he said.

However, he added that access to capital funding was a barrier for many companies.

"Our banks are out of their depth with this technology. They don't understand it in the way that banks in Germany and Denmark do."

Caitriona Murphy

Indo Farming