25 April 2014

DARD Renewable Energy Action Plan Launched


Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has announced details of the DARD Renewable Energy Action Plan, including a £3million Biomass Processing Challenge Fund during a visit to AFBI Hillsborough.

The plan was developed following receipt of the Agricultural Stakeholder Forum’s report, “A Way Forward”, on Renewable Energy. The Biomass Processing Challenge Fund is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme. Launching the plans at the Agri-Food and Bio-Institute (AFBI) Hillsborough, the Minister said: “I recognise that the land-based sector has a key role to play in the generation and utilisation of renewable energy. “The aim of the Action Plan is to provide a framework which will enable the sector to grasp the opportunities that renewable energy can offer. It focuses on a range of actions that my department can deliver to encourage a conducive environment in which opportunities can be exploited.” Turning to the Biomass Processing Challenge Fund, the Minister said: “Within the Action Plan I am encouraging the land based sector to invest in renewable energy technologies, fuelled by biomass and addressing the high capital cost of purchase and installing technologies on farms to process biomass into energy. “I am opening a £3million capital grant Biomass Processing Challenge Fund. This fund will financially support those who bring forward the best economic and technical business cases to increase, for example, farm business efficiency, competitiveness and achieve better energy security, through the processing of agricultural wastes and other biomass material to generate renewable energy primarily for on farm activities.” In conclusion, the Minister added: “The DARD Action Plan is consistent with the direction of the forthcoming Strategic Energy Framework and cross Departmental Bioenergy Action Plan. I plan to put in place a group of stakeholders later in the year to help me keep it updated and relevant.” The renewable energy action plan includes actions relating to research, training, information programmes, new funding for installation of a range of renewable energy technologies, the showcasing of farm scale renewable energy supply chains and encouraging integrated business solutions. Further details on the Biomass Processing Challenge Fund are available on the DARD website Notes to editors: 1.The Renewable Energy Action Plan 2010 is available on the DARD website and the Agricultural Stakeholder Forum on Renewable Energy Report 2009 is also available on the DARD website. 2.The Biomass Processing Challenge Fund can provide capital grant support of up to 40% with a ceiling of €400,000 per project. The scheme is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland. Fund details including application forms are available for download on the DARD website. 3.The Biomass Processing Challenge Fund will close to applications at 5pm on Thursday 19 August 2010. 4.Details of renewable energy research are available on the AFBI website. 5.Details of training courses at CAFRE are available on the DARD website. 6.All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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