NORTHERN Ireland’s longest-established creamery and a leading dairy exporter has invested over £3m in a ground-breaking anaerobic digestion project which it says will not only significantly reduce its own energy costs and carbon footprint, but will also support local farmers in the area.
The innovative project at Ballyrashane Co-Op is part of the company’s wider long-term expansion plan, which is supported by the ongoing expertise and assistance of Northern Bank.
Due to be completed in early June, it will see Ballyrashane generate its own renewable energy, converted from an organic mix of dairy waste, farmyard slurry, maize and grass silage using state-of-the-art anaerobic digestion tank technology.
This energy will be fed to combined heat and power plants to power the entire Ballyrashane facility, with surplus energy being sold back into the grid. The by-product digestate, meanwhile, will be made available to local farmers to spread on their land as a bio-fertiliser.
Ballyrashane’s Project Manager Ian Campbell is confident that this latest innovation will bring about massive financial and environmental efficiency savings:
“We have estimated that using this latest green technology will not only help us trim our annual energy costs significantly, but it will also enable us to reduce our annual carbon emission by more than 3,000 tonnes,” he said.
“Although we are the first dairy firm in Northern Ireland to pioneer this technology, it has already worked extremely well in other parts of the world and we are very confident that it will be a success and beneficial not only to ourselves but to some of our neighbouring farms as well.”
Established in 1896, Ballyrashane Co-Op produces milk for leading retailers such as the Henderson Group and Marks & Spencer and is one of the biggest butter manufacturers in Ireland, with its own brand Ballyrashane butter being exported throughout the UK and Ireland, Asia, America and Europe.
The creamery also produces speciality cheeses for export.