The Mid-Ulster partnership has been formed between Tobermore Concrete, CemCor (Cement), Dale Farm and RSC Group. This novel approach was enabled by the Center for Advanced Sustainable Energy (CASE) at QUB, which indicated that farming wastes could decarbonize our existing gas grid with profound repercussions for Northern Ireland’s capacity to reach Net Zero.
In this study, researchers lead by Prof. David Rooney at Queen’s University determined that transforming farm livestock manure and grass silage into biomethane could help to meet a significant percentage of Northern Ireland’s energy demand.
For the four companies, the proposed innovative “waste-to-watts” approach has the potential to promote: (i) the adoption of low-carbon farming practices; (ii) the development of low-carbon agri- food products; (iii) decarbonized fuel for transport vehicles; (iv) decarbonized construction products.
The vision of the Mid-Ulster companies is ultimately to establish a full-scale plant that will produce enough biomethane, not just for their own use, but also for injection into the NI gas grid.
CASE Director Martin Doherty said this project has incredible potential.
“This project is hugely exciting, with the prospect of being enormously significant in developing security of energy supply, slashing Northern Ireland’s carbon footprint, and helping to significantly boost the circular economy. CASE staff and Prof. David Rooney have been developing the co-operative approach over the past year thanks to support from the Community Renewal Funded 0ccident project with stunning results.
"Put simply, there is no reason beyond habit and history, for Northern Ireland to need to import any fossil fuels whatsoever. This project in particular has the potential to be a massive game changer, indeed it could, if managed and delivered properly have the potential to significantly reduce the need for fossil fuels and hasten in an era of net zero. It’s an example of what Northern Ireland companies can do when given the opportunity, and also of how CASE can positively influence and help to shape our renewable energy future.”
Dr. Paul Madden (CforC), stated that, “this project is an excellent example of local place-based innovation supporting COP27 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals”.
Reflecting on the work carried out by QUB, Dr. James Young, said, “the opportunity for these Mid Ulster companies to decarbonise is immense by focusing on the processing of agricultural manures to recover energy and nutrients such as phosphate to provide decarbonized fuel, goods and services.
David Henderson, Managing Director of Tobermore said that, “We are excited that this project will significantly reduce our need for carbon fuels and help us move to a greener and more sustainable future."
Photo left to right: Dr. Paul Madden (Centre for Competitiveness), Graham Maze (MD, Road Safety Contracts), Dr. James Young, Martin Doherty (Centre for Advanced Sustainable Energy), David Henderson (MD, Tobermore), Allistair Wilkinson (CemCor Ltd.), Ed Wright (Dale Farm), Chloe Skillen (Dale Farm).