Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Energy Minister, Stephen Timms MP, viewed construction on the new biofuel pellet plant at Balcas timber processing facility, outside Enniskillen, during a visit to Northern Ireland.London England – September 3, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The bio fuels pellets, which will be manufactured from sawdust and wood chips from Balcas’ timber processing activities, are among Europe’s fastest-growing renewable energy sources. Balcas is building a Combined Heat and Power Plant on its site to provide all its own electricity and heating requirements from the pellets. The bio fuel project involves converting sawdust and wood chips into 2 cm pellets, which are burnt in industrial and domestic heating boilers without creating carbon dioxide. The process will generate also 2.5MW of electricity, making Balcas’ Enniskillen site self-sufficient in power. “Finding new sources of energy and integrating them into our lives are some of the most important challenges we face in coming decades,” Timms said. “Balcas is making a significant contribution to meeting these challenges by developing the UK’s largest bio fuel pellet plant here in Fermanagh. Timms was also there to officially announce the DTI’s assistance funding of £2 million (US$ 3.5 million) for the project through the SMART program. The Balcas plant will produce 50,000 tons of fuel pellets annually, which the project developers say is sufficient to provide the energy requirements of 10,000 Northern Ireland homes and to generate enough clean electricity to power all Balcas’ electricity requirements. “Inside the next decade, bio fuel pellets could deliver the energy for a quarter of new rural homes in Northern Ireland,” Balcas Managing Director, Ernest Kidney, said. “Biofuel pellets can provide the energy needs of communities where the hinterland precludes wind generation, where the topography is hostile to overhead and underground cabling and where the fuel itself grows from the hillside to the roadside. The project has also been supported by a £1million (US$ 1.7 million) interest free loan from the NIE SMART program.