New plant in County Armagh, Northern Ireland will provide 60 per cent of potato supplier’s annual electricity requirements

Northern Irish potato packer and processer Wilson’s Country is investing £2 million in an anaerobic development (AD) system.

Located at the supplier’s site in Craigavon, County Armagh, the new plant will provide 60 per cent of the company’s annual electricity requirements.

The company said it was an important step towards the company’s ambition to reach net zero in the coming years.

The new system is being gradually brought online over the coming weeks, and it will reach full operational capacity by the end of November.

Wilson’s Country MD Lewis Cunningham commented: “The potato waste from the business will be used as the main feedstock for the AD operation.

”It has taken two years to get the project through near to completion. The last piece in the jig saw puzzle was the establishment of an interconnector between the AD plant and the national grid.”

The management team at Wilson’s Country said the new AD plant will play a key role in helping to bring down the supplier’s carbon footprint.

Company CEO Angus Wilson said: “We have been using certified ‘green electricity’ only within our entire operation for the past couple of years. This step alone has allowed us to reduce the carbon intensity of the company by 75 per cent.

“Being able to generate a significant proportion of our green electricity on site allows us to reduce our overall energy bill, while also making more efficient use of the waste streams produced within the business. It all adds to the sustainability of Wilson’s Country into the future.

“We have a large electricity requirement on site. This is needed to power our controlled temperature potato stores, processing and potato packing operations.

“Given the nature of our business, the actual amounts of electricity that we need can vary a lot throughout the year. However, there will also be occasions when there will be surplus electricity generated on site, which can be exported to the grid.

“A proportion of the waste heat produced will be used to maintain the operational temperature of the AD operation itself.

“We are also looking at options which will allow us make best use of the residual heat from the AD process that will be available to us.”

AD is the conversion of organic feedstock by micro-organisms in the absence of oxygen into biogas and digestate. The biogas produced can be used to generate electricity and heat.