A new project involving partners from Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic involves the anaerobic digestion of poultry litter to produce energy for local industries as well as an organic fertilizer.

The anaerobic digestion (AD) plant, constructed by Williams Industrial Services, will be fueled by 25,000 metric tons per year of poultry litter from Northern Ireland producers, among other organic feedstocks.

The Glenmore Project is based in Ballybofey in the Irish Republic. Led by Connective Energy Holdings Limited, it is an example of a “circular economy approach” to managing the poultry byproduct. The GBP23-million (US$ 32-million) scheme includes support to the value of GBP9.3 million (US$13.2 million) from Invest NI under a scheme called Sustainable Use of Poultry Litter (SUPL).

The AD plant will produce biogas for poultry transport as well as renewable electricity for local industries, and the remaining liquid digestate will be used as an organic fertilizer for nearby commercial forestry and agricultural land.

Government officials welcome sustainability project

Northern Ireland’s Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) Minister Jonathan Bell and Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (DARD) Minster Michelle O’Neill have welcomed the new project.

“In 2012, DETI and DARD jointly launched the Sustainable Use of Poultry Litter (SUPL) project,” said Bell. “Through a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition and the more recent SUPL Loan scheme we have been able to encourage the development of commercially and environmentally sustainable solutions.

“The Glenmore project is the first to reach financial close under the scheme and will help our poultry sector to grow and provide low carbon energy for some of our most important manufacturers. The plant produces biogas which will power the trucks transporting the poultry litter and generate nearly 4 megawatts of renewable electricity for manufacturing firms, Bombardier and Montupet, in Belfast, Newtownards, Newtownabbey and Dunmurry, further supporting industry here.

“The poultry meat sector is a significant contributor to the local economy. The litter produced however presents a significant environmental challenge which could put the growth of the sector at risk. This groundbreaking project is an example of how Departments can work together to facilitate the development of innovative solutions to issues facing Northern Ireland,” Bell added.

“We are committed to helping our agri-food sector grow in ways that are commercially and environmentally sustainable,” said O’Neill. “With 6,000 people working in the poultry sector it has been a top priority for my Department to find new ways to utilize poultry litter. Such innovative and sustainable processes will allow the sector to flourish and meet the requirements of the EU Nitrates and Water Framework Directives.”

New biogas production facilities creating jobs

Connective Energy Holdings Limited, based in Donegal in the Irish Republic, has announced the creation of 90 new jobs over the next 2 years in its biogas production plants across the country, according to RTE.

With 3 new facilities set to open later this year, the company says a further 3 are planned for 2017. Each of its AD facilities will take in around 90,000 metric tons of organic material such as farm slurry, poultry litter and manure, converting it into biogas to be used as a fuel and carbon dioxide for the food and drinks industry.

Speaking at the announcement of the new jobs, Brendan McSorley, development manager of Connective Energy Holdings, said the plants will remove and recycle carbon dioxide as a food product leaving “clean organic fertilizer used as soil conditioner” in a process he described as environmentally friendly.