Landfill gas from the former Belfast city dump will be used to power the city by next summer.
The Giant’s Park on the North Foreshore site will be home to a landfill gas-powered electricity generating facility that will generate income for the city council.
Methane-rich landfill gas from the former Dargan Road site will be extracted using a system of underground pipes and will feed a new generating plant to produce green electricity, the council said.
Rubbish has been landfilled at the site since 1973 at the rate of 500,000 tonnes a year. Gas from the site, which has now been capped, will be converted into electricity via gas generators, instead of being burned off.
The scheme is expected to initially produce about 5 million watts of electricity an hour for export to the National Grid — enough to power up to 6,000 homes. The council has been working in partnership with NIE to install a new cable and electricity sub-station to allow this electricity to be exported to the grid.
The council will be working with engineering company RPS (Renewable Power Systems Ltd) with finance from Ventus Funds, run by London-based specialists Climate Change Capital. It’s the first major redevelopment scheme to be brought to the North Foreshore Giant’s Park. When completed, the park will include a 220-acre public park alongside a 120-acre Environmental Resource Recovery Park.
Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Tom Hartley said: “The electricity-generating facility at Giant’s Park will be of enormous environmental and economic benefit to Belfast.
“It will help create a brighter, cleaner and greener future for the city by eliminating the escape of potentially harmful greenhouse gas. It will also add to the amount of ‘green’ electricity produced from a sustainable source.
“It will further produce a significant income to the council which is good news for our ratepayers.”
Andy Leach, managing director of RPS, said: “The generation of electricity using the methane rich gas collected from landfills is the waste industry’s least known success story. The Dargan Road site, as Northern Ireland’s largest landfill site, has the potential to make a significant contribution to Northern Ireland’s renewable energy output.
“We are delighted to be working with Belfast City Council and Climate Change Capital on the delivery and operation of this project.”
Steve Read from Ventus Funds said: “We are proud to be helping Belfast not only prevent unnecessary pollutants entering the atmosphere but also to make money out of producing renewable energy.
“We know that there are many other landfill sites in Northern Ireland and elsewhere that could benefit from this technology.”
Laurence MacKenzie, managing director of NIE, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support Belfast City Council in connecting this important infrastructure project to the electricity network.”
The Dargan Road site adjacent to the M2 has become a 121 hectare piece of land, reclaimed from the Lagan estuary.
The Ventus Funds have invested nearly £2 million to fund the project which will involve purchasing generators to convert the gas into electricity.
The scheme will cost £4m in total.
Belfast City Council will get paid for the electricity produced.
It is estimated that the site will produce energy, at a declining rate for 20 years.
Some of the land, on the oldest part to the north, is designated to become a business park.