AGRICULTURE and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has shown her support for a greener environment by opening up new funding avenues for renewable energy products and feasibility studies.
Under the Rural Development Programme funding can now be obtained to contribute towards the purchase a wide range of equipment to generate renewable energy. Also available is funding of up to £5,000 matched by the applicant towards the cost of independent feasibility studies.
Confirming details of the new funding opportunities, the Minister said, “Providing funding for certain renewable energy products and assistance with the cost of feasibility studies shows my department’s continued support for a greener environment. This will allow more renewable energy projects to come forward in the future.
“Production of renewable energy has the potential to contribute to job creation particularly in relation to the operational side of biomass from crops and waste, which is of particular benefit in the rural context.
“The assistance available towards the costs of an independent feasibility study will ensure that only viable projects are taken forward and will assist rural businesses and farmers make the often difficult decision of investing in these new renewable technologies.”
The Minister added, “Renewable energy flagship projects at the Agricultural and Food Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) also go a long way in demonstrating renewable energy technologies and how they integrate at farm level.
“The development of renewable energy can and will contribute to other key objectives such as energy security, emission reductions as well as wider economic advantages.”
Welcoming the announcement Harry Sinclair UFU Deputy President said, “The UFU have been on record saying that landowners should do as much research as possible before committing to any renewables project. Such is the infancy of this sector and the number of third parties offering equipment and advice, a landowner needs to be assured that their project is viable. In light of this, the UFU welcomes the availability of Axis 3 funding support towards such feasibility studies and we would urge our members to consider accessing this option.”
Following on from its success in 2010, the ‘Practical On-farm Renewable Energy’ event will be held on Tuesday 1 November at Greenmount Campus. DARD has again joined forces with the UFU, and AFBI to provide practical information for farmers and the rural sector about the various renewable energy options available for their businesses.
A series of seminars throughout the day will consider the main renewable energy technologies; wind power, biomass production and utilisation, anaerobic digestion, solar hot water, micro-hydro and heat pumps. Other topics to be covered will include the proposed Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), grid connection, planning, NI Renewable Obligation Certificates (NIROC’s), marketing NIROC’s as well as finance and funding options.
In addition there will be a Trade Exhibition and the opportunity to tour the renewable energy installations at Greenmount Campus.