Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Minister, Andrew Muir visited the “first facility” in the world to operate using poultry litter as its “sole feedstock”.

The Steam BioEnergy (SBE) plant near Ballymena, Co. Antrim generates 3MW of renewable electricity from 40,000t of poultry litter each year, which is enough to power 6,000 homes across Northern Ireland.

Construction has begun at the site which aims to produce biomethane to “displace 3% of gas” imported to heat NI homes and businesses.

Minister Muir said that he was “delighted” to meet the staff at the facility and to see the positive impact of the operation.

He added:

“They are demonstrating Green Growth in action through the creation of renewable energy, green jobs and a cleaner environment, while increasing energy security and making NI agriculture more sustainable.

“In 2023, six local companies were each awarded funding of £100,000 to develop models for the Sustainable Utilisation of Livestock Slurry to reduce surplus phosphorus (P) within the NI agriculture system.”

The minister added that work is now at an “advanced stage of the development” which aims to have livestock slurry being separated “at scale” from late 2024.

The plant manages poultry litter in an environmentally friendly manner, and it also diverts P away from agricultural land where surpluses are causing an impact on water quality.

Stream BioEnergy chief operating officer, Morgan Burke said that he has regular engagement with DAERA officials and Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) departments.

He is “very supportive” of the “ground breaking” success the Tully plant has achieved with poultry litter being replicated for livestock slurry.

Burke added that Northern Ireland’s “strong” agricultural base provides an “ideal” platform to provide many of the raw materials to help it to sustainably meet its climate change obligations.