Category Archives: Biomass

RHI – report imminent

So it is the end of January 2020 and the RHI Coghlan report is expected next month.
It is an odd situation that with the publication and massive sales of “Burned” by Sam McBride, a lot of the material presented at the Coghlan Inquiry has not only been broadcast through live streaming but has also been pored over by Sam’s avid readers.
In light of this we expect the report to not pull any punches.

I am reminded of the last exchange between Judge Coghlan and Alastair Nicol:

“The Chairman: Yes. Mr Nicol, thank you very much. It’s, if I may say so, refreshing,
because I think, and I’m always subject to correction, you are probably the first qualified
expert who has given evidence, and your evidence covers a period from two months or so
after the introduction of this scheme. Not many other experts, if any, have come before us
to give evidence so far about that, so that is why I say it’s refreshing and we’re very grateful.
May I just say that the bruising from banging your head against the wall has improved very
much. [Laughter.]

RHI – The debacle

So now we still await the Coughlan report.
The process has been very unflattering for the renewable energy industry and it will be a long time before public faith in subsidised energy sources will recover. If you have not yet read “Burned” by Sam McBride it is highly recommended. Ali has a mention in the book which highlights how we provided professional, impartial advice which was also demonstrated when he appeared at the inquiry.

It is vital that future policies are developed which prevent gaming and exploitation of over-generous subsidy regimes and there is a high probability that some form of capital subsidy may re-emerge despite the inflationary impact this always has on the cost of hardware. History shows that the Renewable Obligation scheme had an inflationary impact on hardware prices.

The digestion of sewage and sludge for biogas generation

Pan European collaboration for bio power generation – Ali Nicol, Director, Element Consultants initiates pan European Academic collaboration

Energy costs for water treatment in Northern Ireland top £25 million p.a. Ensuring that NI is at the forefront of knowledge and understanding in allied water treatment technology is of vital importance. Alastair Nicol has initiated a lithuaniaukflagpan-European academic collaboration  for supporting and underwriting Invest Northern Ireland’s valuable programme within the wider water industry. The academic collaboration of universities and colleges from Northern Ireland and the ASU in Kaunas, Lithuania is an academic collusion that will see a wealth of academic, educational and agronomic research benefiting both countries. The basis of collaboration will focus on the digestion of sewage and sludge for biogas generation and grid injection.

“Having worked in industry for over 30 years the degree of waste never ceases to amaze me – But in my travels around the world I have frequently encountered individuals and organizations with innovation, vision and brilliance. Education affords civilization and academic collaboration I see as a fundamental. I am very pleased to have facilitated this new academic collaboration and will remain firmly engaged with the development and support of an ERASMUS programme.”    Alastair Nicol

Tyrone Energy



The Tyrone Energy Biomass Power Station is a £9.5 million investment in renewable energy located at a site in the village of Artigarvan near Strabane, County Tyrone. The station is Northern Ireland’s first large scale ‘wood to energy’ plant,it began full commercial operations in 2012 and will use 25,000 tonnes of wood a year as its biomass fuel. Taking wood from a variety of sustainable sources in the UK, the plant is capable of generating around 2.1 MW of electricity – enough to power the village.

One hundred per cent of the total energy required to run the station will derive from recycled timber- much of which would normally be sent to landfill. It will help in the battle against climate change by saving 7,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year compared to a fossil fuel power station with a similar capacity - the equivalent to the CO2 emissions of 5,000 vehicles a year. Around 100 jobs were created during an 18 month construction period and the facility has created 8 permanent new jobs within Tyrone Energy Ltd. The station will also create additional job opportunities within the wood recycling and transport sectors.

The Tyrone Energy Biomass Power Station has been designed to meet all current and foreseeable European emissions targets by applying Best Available Technology (BAT). Almost £3.6 million of the investment came from a Government grant made under the European Regional Development Fund and is helping the country meet its long-term target of achieving a 60 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The Government is looking for renewable energy schemes to meet 20 per cent of the UK’s energy needs by 2020.


Tim Traill, Tyrone Energy’s Managing Director, said: “This investment is extremely good news for the people of the North West in general. It sustains jobs and plays a part in helping the Government meet the UK’s climate change and greenhouse gas reduction targets. This investment is a real demonstration of faith in the future regarding the Renewable sector and will put the North West firmly on the map.”