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DARD's Biomass Processing Challenge Fund - benefits for the agricultural industry

Robert Potts

Renewable energy resources can have tremendous benefits to the agricultural industry, writes Robert Potts of RPM Fuels and Tanks.

Utilising the available renewable resources and technologies can improve farming activities, business efficiency and environmental sustainability. The Biomass Processing Challenge Fund from North Ireland's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) aims to support farmers who wish to introduce sustainable methods of producing renewable energy for agricultural purposes. This support entails a grant of up to €400,000 per project to cover eligible costs.

What is the DARD’s Biomass Processing Challenge Fund?

One Minister who is urging farmers to realise the potential behind the use of renewable energy resources is Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill. Explaining the agricultural benefits of utilising renewable energy resources, Minister O’Neill commented: “My department supports the uptake of renewable energy in the agricultural sector through various means. These include CAFRE’s training courses and knowledge transfer events for farmers, as well as the dedicated renewable energy research programme undertaken by AFBI and funded by my department.

“The production of food will always remain the primary focus of the agricultural sector, however the diversified income streams and avoided energy costs associated with renewable energy projects can only be of benefit. I want to see sustainable farm-based anaerobic digestion projects proposed. These should utilise the available resources of the farm efficiently and can produce energy for farm use. I want to see a focus on supporting existing farming activities.”

Minister O’Neill continued, expressing her high hopes for the DARD’s Biomass Processing Challenge Fund success: “The Fund is now open for a second tranche of applications and I hope to see a diverse range of applications which will significantly enhance the utilisation of renewable technologies on-farm. I am keen to ensure that the Fund is accessible to as wide a range of agricultural interests as possible and therefore the Fund will again support a variety of technologies.”

Applying for the DARD’s Biomass Processing Challenge Fund

  • Application forms are available for download:

  • You can apply if you are an individual farmer or a group of farmers

  • Applicants must have a “Business DARD ID4” number to allow for financial assistance under the scheme

  • Upon request BPCF documents can also be released in alternative formats and other languages

  • Application deadline is before 4pm on Friday 30 November 2012

Robert Potts is from RPM Fuels and Tanks

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Bioenergy  •  Policy, investment and markets