CREST, Northern Ireland's largest green technology and training facility, today opened the doors on a new purpose-built bioenergy laboratory designed to advance international research and boost local industry.
The state-of-the-art laboratory was part-financed through the INTERREG IVA Programme with support from the Special EU Programmes Body, and is the latest addition to the CREST Centre which opened at South West College's Technology and Skills Centre in January. The facility has been match funded by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland and Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland.
Understood to be the most extensive research facility of its type in Northern Ireland, the unit is the latest development for the £2.9m project and puts South West College among a small group of international colleges with the capacity to contribute to world-leading bioenergy research.
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Posted by BBC Newsline on Tuesday, 22 September 2015
The lab is equipped with a suite of specialist technologies that can be used to process and analyse various biomass residues to assess their suitability for producing biofuels, energy and value added products. The facility will also support the operation and energy production from Anaerobic Digestion plants that generate extract heat and power from materials including agricultural waste.
Tim Stokes, CREST Centre Manager said:
"Technology in this sector is evolving at incredible pace and it is important that Northern Ireland is in a position to stay ahead of the curve. Ultimately, facilities like this are about propelling clients towards greater efficiencies, compliance with government targets and competitiveness on the global stage. We know that other regions have much lower energy costs, but technologies like those available here are levelling the playing field.
"The lab will enable us to undertake a range of practical industry research projects relating to bioenergy on behalf of businesses and farmers in the region. It is an excellent addition to the CREST R&D facilities which include the CREST Passive Pavilion and innovative solar and energy storage installations."
Welcoming the opening of the new laboratory the Finance Minister Arlene Foster said: "This R&D laboratory, which ranks among the top 'clean and green' training facilities in the UK, is the culmination of a unique collaboration of expertise and resources from the South West College and its project partners in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Its completion demonstrates what can be achieved when individuals and organisations work in partnership towards a shared vision that is mutually beneficial. Businesses and individuals will be able to use this facility to research and develop innovative products and processes which they wouldn't have the capacity to develop themselves.
"Renewable energy products and sustainable technologies are at the forefront of new industries and the training and R&D support from this facility can help small and medium-sized enterprises compete in this multi-million pound industry. The Interreg IVA programme funding for this project was crucial in helping Northern Ireland advance its capacity to contribute to world-leading bioenergy research."
CREST is one of South West College's innovation centres. It has world class facilities and a team of staff through which it provides support to small and medium-sized businesses in Northern Ireland and beyond, enabling them to develop and adopt new renewable energy and sustainable technologies.
Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive (Designate) of the Special EU Programmes Body which manages the INTERREG IVA Programme said:
"The pioneering, cross-border work being undertaken by the South West College team at CREST and its project partners in Cavan, Sligo and Dumfries and Galloway is a powerful demonstration of the EU INTERREG IVA Programme in action, which works towards a more prosperous and sustainable region. Today's opening of the new R&D laboratory is a significant addition to the CREST project and can only be of assistance to this important work."
To mark the opening, CREST is hosting a three-day series of events which have been organised in partnership with the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI). The programme includes:
8th September - Biomass Fuel Quality Workshop at AFBI, Hillsborough 9th September - CREST R&D Lab Opening & Biomass Processing & Testing Workshop 10th September - Anaerobic Digestion & Biogas Optimisation Seminar at CREST
Anyone interested in attending should contact Shane McBrien on 028 6634 2301 or firstname.lastname@example.org
for CREST events and Chris Johnston on 028 9268 1540 or email@example.com
for the AFBI event.