Green energy plant to power 25,000 homes
20 years of green energy | 25,000 homes supplied | 220 jobs in the pipeline
Renewable energy could power 25,000 homes and boost carbon neutral generation by 10% with the opening of Northern Ireland's biggest biomass plant in 2015.
The £80m project will also create around 200 construction jobs and 20 permanent positions.
Work is expected to start over the next few weeks on the plant, which won planning permission three years ago, on a 10-acre site at Londonderry Port.
At least 115,000 tonnes of recycled wood will be burnt every year over 20 years to produce heat and power at the Evermore Renewable Energy Plant in Lisahally, described as a combined heat and power plant (CHP). Brothers Ciaran (30) and Stephen Devine (28) from Eglinton are the co-founders of Evermore Renewable Energy, which is leading the project and has won funding of £20m from the UK Government's Green Investment Bank in its first venture in Northern Ireland.
Specialist bank Investec is lending £40m to the scheme and infrastructure investors Gravis Capital Partners £20m.
The plant will be built and run by Scandinavian firm Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor A/S (BWSC), also taking its first steps into Northern Ireland.
Power NI will buy all the energy produced on a long-term contract and use it to power 25,000 homes in the north west.
Stephen Devine said the brothers shared a business background, with Ciaran working as a stockbroker in London and Stephen for business advisers KPMG up until four years ago when they began planning the plant.
He said: "Renewable energy is one of the most important sectors in the economy at the moment. We need to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
"It's a stable market and that's a key factor for ourselves.
"We wanted to have a project that would benefit the people of Northern Ireland.
"This is a long-term project which will operate for over 20 years. It's a strategic project for us in the north west and as a young company we aspire to other projects but not as big in scale."
He said the project was totally environmentally sound using the "best in class technology".
Around 200 people are expected to work on the construction of the plant with 20 eventually employed in its operation. Around 70% of the fuel which will be treated in the plant will be shipped in to Derry Port from Liverpool under a 15-year deal with Stobart Biomass Products.
In a statement to the Stock Exchange, Stobart said it expects to make £75m over the 15 years.
The plant, a first in Ireland, will generate 15.8 megawatts, increasing the renewable energy generated in Northern Ireland by some 10%.
Energy Minister Arlene Foster said the plant would make a major contribution to Northern Ireland's 2020 renewable energy target of ensuring that 40% of Northern Ireland's electricity comes from renewable sources.