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Opinion: Renewable energy pioneers' cheer

A day after the Business Telegraph broke news of a new green energy innovation created in Northern Ireland, the UK Green Investment Bank has announced a total of £5m of support to whisky distilleries in Scotland, supported by a local company.

Aberfeldy distillery in Perthshire has just been awarded £1.2m as part of the investment in biomass boilers, and last year Tomatin distillery near Inverness was awarded £1.2m.

Half of the £5m will come from the Green Investment Bank, with matched funding from the private sector. Timber firm Balcas Limited, headquartered in Co Fermanagh, is one of the co-funders of the project and will also supply the wood pellets used in the burners, which will replace the existing inefficient heavy fuel oil boilers.

The pellets are manufactured by Balcas using renewable energy and raw materials sourced from sustainably managed forests at its plant at Invergordon. Around three other distilleries could share in the funding but details have still to be finalised.

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable welcomed the investment in one of Scotland's most important industries and said the savings would help secure jobs and support the local supply chain.

The Aberfeldy distillery was founded by John Dewar & Sons Ltd in 1896 and opened in 1898.

With Wednesday's news that international investors are in Belfast this week to visit two Queen's University-based inventors who have come up with a new way to make biomass pellets from even the finest and wettest materials, it seems fitting to raise a glass to our renewable energy pioneers.

Belfast Telegraph