Agri-tech company BHSL has completed the €8m first tranche of an equity drive, it revealed during a visit to its pilot project converting poultry manure into energy in Maryland, USA.
The Limerick-based company is expected to close its second fundraising tranche before Easter in a process run by Focus Consulting.
With the US producing up to nine billion chickens each year, BHSL is targeting it as a key export market, and has estimated the market opportunity at over $500m (€472m).
BHSL chairman, Denis Brosnan, yesterday welcomed the Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, to the launch of a $3m pilot project converting poultry waste on Bob Murphy’s 112-acre Double Trouble Farm in Rhodesdale, Maryland. The pilot is operating in one chicken house, but will extended to four chicken houses on the farm over the 12-month trial period.
Bob Murphy said: “It’s early days, but the chicken house has significantly lower humidity and ammonia levels. Me and my sons think that once we complete the pilot project, the data will encourage more farmers to consider this technology.
"I strongly believe that with the restrictions the State is putting on how farmers use poultry litter, the BHSL solution is our ticket for turning manure into energy. It’s a win win for all.” Over 300 million chickens are produced in Maryland each year, and c.1 billion in the wider Chesapeake Bay area, 12% of total US production. The resulting 1.2 million tonnes of manure is causing algal bloom and damage to fish and shellfish stocks in the bay.
“Farmers using our system can transform the environment in their chicken sheds, and enjoy improved efficiencies and profitability,” said Denis Brosnan.
“We have a technological solution that can help address the pressing challenge of cleaning up Chesapeake Bay and reducing the impact of manure from the poultry industry. The State’s support for this pilot project has been invaluable and we hope that more can be done to help farmers who want to use this technology to address an important environmental issue.”
Enterprise Ireland is an investor in the company and has provided support in developing relationships in the US market.
Sean Davis, regional director North America at Enterprise Ireland, said: “The agri-tech sector is a really exciting and fast growing area that we have identified as a priority to support. BHSL’s technology addresses production efficiencies and profitability for agricultural producers and integrators, it can also have a large impact on sustainability and the environment.”
The farm visit was also attended by Maryland Agriculture Secretary, Joe Bartenfelder; Maryland State Senator, Thomas “Mac” Middleton; Ann Swanson, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission; and officials from Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Embassy to the United States.
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