Norfolk’s utility scale plants produce either renewable electricity and/or renewable gas to decarbonize local electricity and gas grids.
The first site, Corbiere Renewables, was of particular interest to the minister as it produces biomethane for direct injection into the gas grid, which Northern Ireland hopes to emulate in the near future, with Granville Eco Park likely to be among the first to inject biomethane. in the Northern Ireland gas network.
Acquired by Bio Capital Ltd in June 2022, the plant uses raw materials from organic waste to produce biogas to generate electricity. However, the Corbière plant recovers biogas into biomethane by eliminating the majority of the CO2, which allows it to be injected into the local gas network to replace natural gas based on fossil fuels.
The second plant visited by the minister, Redstow Renewables, focuses on the production of biogas for power generation using a 4.5 MW combined heat and power (CHP) plant, producing approximately 35 million kWh of electricity each year. Both plants use the resulting digestate to fertilize local farmland, reducing their reliance on imported artificial fertilizers.
Minister Poots said: “I see electricity and biomethane produced by anaerobic digestion as a way not only to decarbonise heat and transport, but also, if managed correctly, to boost centralized treatment and separation manure nutrients that could provide feedstock for biomethane and biogas from anaerobic digestion. This could provide new opportunities for a circular economy through the export of surplus organic fertilizers produced from slurry or digestate.
“In this way, the agricultural sector in Northern Ireland could become less dependent on imported carbon-intensive, high-phosphorus fertilizers and reverse the decline in the ecological status of waterways and habitats. It will also reduce NI’s reliance on expensive imported fossil fuels, which will increase our energy security and demonstrate a tangible example of green growth in action.
Technical Director of Granville EcoPark Ltd and BioCapital Ltd, Dr David McKee, said: “We are pleased to have the opportunity to show Minister Poots the technology used at our Norfolk facilities to produce gas and oil. renewable electricity from agricultural waste and energy crops.
“Agricultural AD has the potential to help Northern Ireland meet some of its most significant decarbonisation challenges while improving local productivity and creating additional renewable energy career opportunities in rural communities. Bio Capital has proven the app works in Norfolk and we look forward to working with local stakeholders to make it work in Northern Ireland.