Plans have been drawn up to build a €25m power plant in Co Cork, generating electricity from waste food and other non-hazardous biodegradable products.
It is envisaged that the project will divert many tonnes of waste from going to landfill.
An Irish-owned company, Stream BioEnergy, will lodge a planning application with Cork County Council next Tuesday.
The project promoters hope to develop the plant on part of a former Pfizer site at Inchera, Little Island.
The company said that if the planning application is successful, it will employ 50 full-time operatives at the plant, with a further 70 engaged during construction.
The plant is designed to handle 90,000 tonnes of waste yearly.
Currently, the company estimates more than 500,000 of food waste had been buried in landfills or disposed of through incineration.
Stream BioEnergy plans to use anaerobic digesters, in which micro-organisms will break down food and convert it into fertilisers and biogas before a conversion process into electricity and heat.
Morgan Burke, the company’s development manager, said the electricity produced would be sold to the national grid and would be sufficient to power up to 7,500 homes annually.
“The facility will deliver safer and cleaner energy to replace fossil fuels and will provide much needed capacity to treat the growing volumes of separately collected organic wastes,” said Mr Burke.
The company also plans to capitalise on the introduction of legislation which will ensure that, from the end of next year, the majority of Irish households use brown bins to recycle food waste.
All waste will be delivered to the plant in enclosed vehicles which will avoid residential areas by travelling via the Jack Lynch Tunnel-Dunkettle interchange side.
Stream BioEnergy says the vast majority of the waste food it will process will come from households, restaurants, and hotels.
However, it also plans to take some byproduct organic waste from the food and beverage processing industries.
Mr Burke said he hopes construction of the facility — which is the size of two and a half football pitches — will start in autumn 2016 and be completed by the end of 2017.
The company, which was founded six years ago and has its headquarters in Dublin, has secured planning permission for a similar plant in Fingal, Co Dublin, along with a slightly smaller facility in Ballymena, Co Antrim. It may also develop other sites in the North.
“The development of this type of infrastructure is encouraged by EU and national legislation and planning, waste and energy policies,” said Mr Burke.
“It is urgently needed to assist the government to achieve Ireland’s EU targets relating to waste recycling and renewable energy generation.”
The company’s environment manager, Paula Galvin, said: “The plant will be operated to the highest standards and in accordance with stringent regulatory controls and limits that will be set out within an EPA licence.”
The company revealed its plans yesterday and invited Little Island residents to an information day.
Fianna Fáil councillor Padraig O’Sullivan, who lives locally, said: “It’s silly not to convert food waste into renewable energy.”
However, he said some locals were understandably concerned about the likely scale of the development and the risk of foul odours.
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