Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill today re-affirmed her
commitment to the support of renewable energy in the
agricultural sector by announcing the re-opening of the EU
co-financed Biomass Processing Challenge Fund.
~ Monday, 10 September 2012
The Biomass Processing Challenge Fund (BPCF) aims to
encourage agricultural and forestry businesses to install
biomass fuelled technologies primarily to aid agricultural
activities at farm level. The Fund can provide capital
grant assistance of up to 40% with a ceiling of
approximately £320,000 per project.
The Minister recently visited the Blakiston-Houston farm in
Carrowreagh, County Down to view the Anaerobic Digester
which was installed at the premises with support from the
BPCF. This dairy, beef and arable farm utilises cattle
slurry with a percentage of grass silage to produce heat
and electricity to be used on-farm in direct support of
Following her visit, the Minister said: "It is good to see
a successful renewable energy project in operation and I am
pleased that my department was able to offer assistance to
it and other renewable installations.
I support the development of on-farm renewable energy
technologies and I recognise that they can be hugely
beneficial to local farmers by improving their resource
efficiency and providing a secure source of renewable
energy which will in turn enhance farm profitability."
The Minister added: "I am encouraged at the significant
impact tranche one of the BPCF has had in encouraging
uptake of on-farm renewable technologies. However with the
cost of capital construction remaining high and with
limited availability of private finance, I believe that the
time is right to re-open the Biomass Processing Challenge
Fund for applications. I remain mindful of the challenges
faced by potential applicants in procuring private finance
and confirming the necessary legal permissions. To allow
farmers to address these issues, I will open the Fund for
an extended application period of 12 weeks. I hope to see
farmers coming forward with applications incorporating a
range of renewable technologies and look forward to my
department supporting projects with viable economic and
technical business cases which evidence how renewable
energy technologies can benefit the farming enterprise."
The Minister highlighted that she wanted to see the
agricultural sector make a meaningful contribution to the
government target of producing 40% of electricity and 10%
of heat from renewable sources by 2020. She added: "I
firmly believe that assistance with capital installation is
vital to ensure that these targets are met and I hope that
all farmers will give serious consideration to the adoption
of renewable technologies on-farm. I am confident that such
technologies can benefit every farmer in the north of
Ireland, regardless of the size of their holding."
Applications to the fund are welcome from individual
farmers and groups of farmers. The Biomass Processing
Challenge Fund is part of the Greenhouse Gas strategy and
action plan (Efficient Farming cuts Greenhouse Gases). Fund
details including application forms are available for
All BPCF documents can be made available, on request, in
alternative formats and other languages.
The BPCF will be open to applications for 12 weeks from
Monday 10 September 2012. No applications will be accepted
after 4pm on Friday 30 November 2012.
The BPCF is managed under the European Sustainable
Competitiveness Programme for NI 2007 - 2013 and is part
financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
under Priority 3 - Improving the Accessibility and
Enhancing the Environment.
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