Creamery ‘goes green’

BALLYRASHANE Creamery has announced a major investment in a ground-breaking new ‘green energy’ project.

Northern Ireland’s oldest dairy, which employs 150 staff at its Coleraine site, says the project which will utilise the latest sustainable technology to generate renewable energy from organic dairy production waste which will transform its business and provide income streams for local farmers.

The Creamery, which is an independent Co-operative owned by local farmers is lodging a planning application for the scheme this week.

Ballyrashane Creamery’s General Manager, Nigel Kemps, said the investment will not only help to secure local jobs but will also reduce annual Carbon emission by more than 3,000 tonnes.

“This is a tremendously exciting project which has real potential to radically reduce our energy costs as well as generating sufficient electricity to run the entire Ballyrashane facility whilst enabling our processing operation to run completely carbon free,” he said,

If given the green light by planners the new purpose-built plant will be located at the company’s existing farm premises near the current Ballyrashane production facility.

This plant will utilise Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Tank Technology to produce renewable biogas from creamery wastes, local energy crops and cattle slurry from local farms.

This will generate more than seven million kWh of electricity and additional process heat through Combined Heat & Power technology. The process will also provide odour free Bio-fertiliser as a by-product for use in local farming production.

The project has been designed by the Ballyrashane Creamery Energy Team, headed by Ian Campbell (Operations and Environmental Manager) with analysis and detailed design undertaken by the Carbon Trust Northern Ireland.

Mr Kemps added: “We are delighted to be the first dairy company in Northern Ireland to invest in this exciting technology. This is a proven process that has worked extremely successfully in other parts of the world. We will be working closely with our various neighbours and stakeholders to ensure everyone is fully aware of our plans as well as the rationale for the project and the benefits it will bring.

“The Carbon Trust identified the project as unique to the sector given the cooperation between the dairy and local farmers. It is a unique model and demonstrates an innovative approach to cutting costs, reliance on fossil fuels and our carbon footprint.

“The Carbon Trust has assisted us with the project from the start, carrying out an initial feasibility study to prove the concept. This support is ongoing with the further assistance and guidance being given by way of detailed specifications and independent Consultancy support.”

Ballyrashane Co-op was founded in 1896 and is an integral part of its local rural community. It is a significant processor of milk and cream and its products are sold worldwide.

Ballyrashane produces milk for the Henderson Group, Marks & Spencer and also for its own Ballyrashane brand label. As a major manufacturer of butter in Northern Ireland, its butter is sold globally as well as locally to retail outlets. In recent years the company has been developing speciality cheeses which are currently supplied to the Greek and Italian markets.