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Bombardier - Durkan gives green light to the North’s largest scheme to convert solar radiation to electricity

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has announced planning approval for the North’s largest scheme to convert solar radiation into electricity.
Thursday, 6 February 2014

The application by Bombardier Aerospace at their Airport Road West, Belfast plant is for the installation of roof mounted photovoltaic panels. These panels convert solar radiation into electricity and will produce 3.8MW. Covering a roof area of five hectares - the equivalent length of over six large international football pitches - this makes it the largest photovoltaic scheme in Northern Ireland. The carbon footprint is 65 times lower than that of fossil fuel based electricity.

The Minister also approved an application for a biogas combined heat and power engine unit at this Belfast site which will have the capacity to produce 500kw of electricity which is the equivalent electricity supply for 300 homes.

These proposals represent a further commitment by Bombardier to renewable energy technologies which will secure more competitive and sustainable energy for the company and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. This is in addition to recent approvals for a £85million energy from waste plant, adjacent to their Airport Road West site, as well as similar biogas units in their Newtownabbey and Dunmurry plants.

Mark H Durkan said: “This is a further boost for one of our leading companies which is installing renewable energy technologies to reduce energy costs and reliance on fossil fuels. Renewable energy is generating a real win-win outcome – it represents an opportunity for industry to improve its competitiveness while helping reduce its environmental impact. These applications by Bombardier to secure more sustainable technologies will in turn contribute to key Programme for Government targets for increasing renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This will assist Northern Ireland in making the transition towards a low carbon society.

“The decision for the photovoltaic panels was processed in around six weeks and represents how a more efficient planning system is delivering the right decisions quickly for business. This further demonstrates my commitment to deliver fast and fair planning decisions that create a better environment and a stronger economy.”

Notes to editors:

  1. Biogas is a renewable energy technology where the gas from decomposing organic matter is collected usually through a process known as anaerobic digestion. The gas is cleaned and polished at source to make it suitable for use as a fuel. This is then used to power an engine unit which converts it to mechanical energy and then to electricity. The biogas is not produced on site but is sourced from suppliers and transported to the site for electricity generation to power the unit.
  2. Application Z/2013/1267/F was received by the Department on 1 November 2013. The proposal is for ‘alterations to the roof for the installation of roof mounted Photovoltaic panels’ at Bombardier Aerospace wing Manufacturing and Assembly Facility, Airport Road West, Belfast BT3 9ED.
  3. Application Z/2013/1117/F was received by the Department on the 4 October 2013. The proposal is for a Biogas combined heat and power engine unit (500kw) and associated plant including gas decompression unit, gas storage tank and gas ISO container at Bombardier Aerospace wing Manufacturing and Assembly Facility, Airport Road West, Belfast BT3 9ED. The Decision Notice was issued 21 January 2014.
  4. The applicant for both applications is Bombardier Aerospace Short Brothers PLC.
  5. No letters of objection/support were received for either application.
  6. The application for the Photovoltaic panels is streamlined and no further consultation with Belfast City Council is required while the application for the Biogas unit was presented to Belfast City Council on 12 December 2013. The Decision Notice was issued 13 December 2013.
  7. For media enquiries contact DOE Press Office Tel: 028 9025 6058. Out of office hours, call the Executive Information Service’s Duty Press Officer on 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.