£6.5m boost to rural economy in Northern Ireland

Foresight Group and Green Investment Bank announce funding for two on-farm anaerobic digestion plants in County Tyrone and County Down;

• Anaerobic digestion is a process which generates electricity and fertiliser from organic waste and is one of Northern Ireland’s most promising renewable energy technologies, expected to grow by c. 500% in the coming years;

• The projects will create a new revenue stream for the farmers and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

As announced by Prime Minister David Cameron through the publication of ‘Building a Prosperous and United Community: One Year On’ this morning, the UK Green Investment Bank plc (GIB) is investing to help farmers in Northern Ireland become more sustainable, create jobs and generate income from their waste.

To read or print this announcement from a pdf click here

Working with its fund manager Foresight Group (Foresight), GIB has today announced 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.

Anaerobic digestion is a natural process which takes organic waste and breaks it down. This produces a gas, which is turned into electricity. This can be used on-site or sold into the national grid. The process also creates digestate, a natural by-product which can be spread on the land as a fertiliser, saving famers money and returning nutrients to the land.

There are environmental benefits to using anaerobic digestion. Firstly, it reduces the carbon footprint of farm operations because the digestate from anaerobic digestion can be used as a substitute fertiliser and because waste left to decompose on the land emits greenhouse gases. Secondly, the more renewable energy is produced, the less reliance there will be on fossil fuels.

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.

While the UK-wide anaerobic digestion market in general is showing strong growth, the Northern Ireland market in particular is now one of the most attractive locations in Europe for this technology. This is thanks to enhanced government support and a high volume of appropriate waste.

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.

Cookstown project

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.

Environmental impact: Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 2,250 t CO2e per year. This is equivalent to taking 1000 cars off the road for a year.

Jobs: 11 new jobs will be created in construction and operations.

Energy generation: 3,600 MWh which will be sold into the national grid. This is the same amount of electricity as 850 households would use in a year.

Fertiliser: The plant will produce digestate, which the farmers will use as fertiliser.

Fuel supply: 18,500 tonnes of waste from the local farmers.

Operations and maintenance: Williams Industrial Services (both construction and maintenance).

Speaking on behalf of the group, PAR Renewables, farmer Rodney Sloan said:

"We took the decision to develop an on-farm anaerobic digestion plant over three years ago, pooling the resources across our three farm enterprises. While we received planning permission nearly two years ago, the lack of suitable funding in the market has delayed the project’s development and we are therefore delighted to have worked with the GIB, Foresight, KPMG and Williams Industrial Services to secure a funding package tailored specifically to our project’s requirements.

Banbridge 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.

Environmental impact: Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 2,250 t CO2e per year. This is equivalent to taking 1000 cars off the road for a year.

Jobs: 11 new jobs will be created in construction and operations.

Energy generation: 3,600 MWh which will be sold into the national grid. This is the same amount of electricity as 850 households would use in a year.

Fertiliser: The plant will produce digestate, which the farmers will use as fertiliser.

Fuel supply: 18,500 tonnes of waste from the local farmers.

Operations and maintenance: Williams Industrial Services (both construction and maintenance).

Thomas Cromie, project manager, said:

"We are delighted to secure funding from the Green Investment Bank for our on-farm AD plant, having been developing the project for over six years. This project will diversify and improve the economic sustainability of our farming operations, while providing better utilisation of farm wastes and reducing the CO2 footprint of our enterprise”.

Ends

Notes to Editor

About the Green Investment Bank (GIB)
The UK Green Investment Bank was launched in November 2012. With £3.8 billion of funding from the UK Government, it is the first bank of its kind in the world. It is a "for profit" bank, whose mission is to accelerate the UK's transition to a greener economy, and to create an enduring institution, operating independently of Government.
www.greeninvestmentbank.com

About Foresight
Foresight Group has been managing investment funds on behalf of institutions and retail clients for 30 years. With a background in Private Equity and Venture Capital, Foresight has diversified activities and today manages institutional funds principally in European Infrastructure (Solar and PPP), Environmental and UK small cap Private Equity, including six years of specific Infrastructure experience.

Foresight has £1 billion of assets under management and boasts one of the UK's leading Environmental infrastructure investment teams. It is responsible for managing approximately £155 million of environmental assets which include the £68m mandate from the UK Government's Green Investment Bank for UK environmental infrastructure. Foresight also manages the £60 million Foresight Environmental Fund (FEF).
www.foresightgroup.eu

About KPMG
KPMG in Ireland has 80 partners and 1,900 people in offices in Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Galway.

KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. We operate in 153 countries and have 145,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

About Williams Industrial Services Ltd. ("WIS”)
Williams Industrial Services Ltd ("WIS”) is Northern Ireland’s largest process control, automation, instrumentation and environmental engineering company, employing close to
200 engineers, technicians and support staff and with over 30 years’ experience.

With a strong track record over the past 30 years in the water / wastewater treatment and aerospace sectors, WIS has successfully expanded into the bioenergy market with a
range of processes including large industrial and farm scale anaerobic digestion plants. These plants range in size from just 75kWe to 5 MWe.

Having carried out considerable research on the bio-energy sector, WIS has developed a local bio-energy solution which has been designed to meet the needs of the UK and ROI markets and, with a performance that surpasses international competition.

WIS recognised the opportunity within NI for locally designed commissioned and supported renewable energy projects and having built to date more than £500m of aerobic systems WIS are uniquely positioned to offer an unrivalled LOCAL solution within the renewable fuels market providing the design manufacture and building of anaerobic digesters for a range of sectors - municipal, agricultural and industrial. We believe our in depth knowledge of process engineering and control, state of the art tailor made design and build plants, combined with our local NI based engineers makes WIS AD systems superior to the other mainland European systems on offer.