01/10/2009

Belfast Waste Powers City Homes

A landmark landfill-to-electricity generation facility was switched on in Belfast today.

Located at Giant's Park on the North Foreshore, the new landfill gas-powered generating plant is said to represent an enormous environmental benefit to the city.

As well as power, it will also generate an income to the council in the region of £1.5m a year - and is said to be great news for ratepayers.

The project, coordinated by Belfast City Council in partnership with Renewable Power Systems (RPS), has also received finance from the Ventus Funds - managed by London-based investment and asset management specialists, Climate Change Capital.

Electricity will be generated from the methane-rich landfill gas produced at the former Dargan Road landfill site and will be enough to power up to 6,000 homes. Furthermore, the plant can provide up to six million watts of heat in the form of hot water.

The NI Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster (pictured here with Naomi Long, Lord Mayor of Belfast), cut the ribbon on the official ceremony to open the plant at noon today.

"This is a very important milestone for our renewables development," she said.

"The Giant's Park installation is the largest non-wind renewable generating station to come into operation in Northern Ireland and only the second to produce electricity from landfill gas.

"I look forward to further sites being developed across Northern Ireland, to increase the amount of renewable energy we can harness from landfill gas, an energy source that would otherwise be wasted.

"To facilitate such further development, I announced earlier this month that electricity generated from landfill gas will be provided with a higher level of financial assistance in Northern Ireland, despite significant reductions in the rest of the UK," she explained.

Naomi Long, Lord Mayor of Belfast was also on hand and said: "This new electricity generating plant will be an enormous environmental and economic benefit to the city."

Andy Leach, Managing Director of RPS, commented that he was delighted to be working with Belfast City Council.

"This project is the largest landfill gas project in Northern Ireland and will make a significant contribution to the environment by recycling the product of Belfast's old waste into electricity," he stated.

The council has worked closely with NIE Energy in constructing an adjoining sub station, installing cabling and making the connection to the national grid.

Now, the company will be purchasing all the electricity produced there.

"It is great that this source of renewable energy is being harnessed. We are heavily dependent on imported fossil fuels for our electricity generation in Ireland and also the vagaries of the price of these fuels in world markets," said NIE Energy Managing Director Stephen McCully.

This will be the first major redevelopment project within the North Foreshore Giant's Park.

When completed, it will comprise one area containing leisure facilities alongside the Environmental Resource Recovery Park, containing businesses focusing on recycling, renewable energies and environmental technologies.

It will also create significant employment opportunities by promoting the growth of the emerging environmental industry sector.

(CL/BMcC)

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