Tuam in Co. Galway was devastated when its local sugar factory was closed down in 1983 with the loss of 400 jobs. However, local businessman Bernie Hynes plans to resurrect the old factory and begin growing beets while making green electricity.
Mr. Hynes plans to build and energy plant on the old sugar site to make methane gas from beets, maize, slurry and even out-of-date foodstuffs. He claims that the factory could potentially produce up to 60% of the town’s electricity needs, while at the same time bringing back beets to Tuam.
A number of experts have analysed Mr. Hynes’ project proposal before the idea went public. ‘The process for producing electricity from sugar beet is anaerobic digestion and it is the most modern and cost effective form of renewable energy,’ he said. ‘It has been tried and tested on the continent for decades and Germany alone has over 5,000 such plants. Tuam uses five mega watts of electricity annually and as we can produce three mega watts of electricity, that is 60% of the town’s electricity sourced locally.’
If the proposal is to go ahead Mr Hynes expects the plant to be up and running in 12 months and it would reach a maximum output within three years. The plant would also create 30 new jobs. ‘Hopefully the site will be ready soon, the money is in place for the project and we will be applying to the ESB regarding the connection to the national grid if everything gets the go-ahead’.
The Irish government has set plans to achieve 33% of its electricity consumption from renewable energy sources by 2020. Mr. Hynes believes this project will be a step closer to achieving this goal. ‘We will be looking for local farmers to grow some sugar beet, fodder beet and maize silage. It will be great to see sugar beet in the Tuam area again,’ he told the Daily Mail.