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Last Updated: Friday, 30 December 2005, 11:35 GMT
NI power plant is 'revolutionary'
Balcas is one of the UK's most advanced wood processing firms
Balcas is one of the UK's most advanced wood processing firms
An NI biomass plant has been named as one of the best in the UK for leading the way in cutting carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy.

The Balcas plant outside Enniskillen in Fermanagh produces a "revolutionary new wood pellet bio fuel" created by burning sawdust and woodchips.

It was named fourth in the top 10 list of new green energy projects.

Balcas is the first biomass facility in the world to produce this type of renewable heating fuel.

The top 10 schemes, which began operation in 2005, were exciting and innovative, the Department of Trade and Industry said.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks officially opened the Balcas site in November.

The 9m plant will produce 50,000 tonnes of fuel pellets a year, enough to meet the company's own energy requirements and power 10,000 homes.

Huge surplus

The pellets can be burned in industrial and domestic heating boilers without creating a net increase in carbon dioxide, which causes global warming.

The firm said the on-site processing of sawdust and wood chips would eliminate 10,000 heavy truck journeys each year from the roads of Northern Ireland - equivalent to 1.5 million truck miles.

Earlier this year, Balcas said company productivity had increased by about 40%, leading to a huge surplus of sawdust and woodchips.

The Eden Project
The Eden Project was also praised

It believes that within the next decade, bio fuel pellets could deliver the energy for a quarter of new rural homes in Northern Ireland.

Balcas is one of the UK's most advanced wood processing companies, with seven manufacturing and processing sites in Ireland, Britain and Europe.

The company employs 1,000 people in harvesting and processing the output from the renewable forests of Northern Europe.

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