The Bord na Móna Powergen business manages and operates the Edenderry peat/biomass generating unit, the Cushaling peaking plant and the Bellacorick wind farm. There are also a number of development projects that will add substantially to Bord na Móna’s electricity generating capacity over the next decade.
Powergen’s strategy is focused on sustainable business growth through the phased development of a diversified portfolio of generating assets. This will be achieved by leveraging land assets, project development and operations and maintenance capabilities. Powergen will be a leading low carbon electricity generator, with a suite of resources including wind, biomass and other renewables supported by flexible thermal plant.
The Powergen business delivered a satisfactory operating year. It also made significant progress in its development agenda with construction commencing on both the Mount Lucas and Bruckana wind farm projects. The Oweninny wind project was also advanced in joint venture with ESB Wind Development Limited. ‘The Clean Energy Hub’ is Bord na Móna’s concept to develop a number of wind farms operating on our midland cutaway peatlands, which could be linked together to form a renewable energy generation ‘hub’. The power generated would primarily be exported to the United Kingdom. Significant preparatory work was undertaken to position us for this opportunity.
This business is primarily responsible for harvesting and delivering peat feedstock to the ESB’s two peat-burning electricity stations at Lanesboro and Shannonbridge, as well as peat and biomass to our own co-fired plant at Edenderry; it also supplies the peat needed to manufacture peat briquettes and the moss peat used in both household gardening and professional horticulture in the Irish, British and mainland European markets. The medium term outlook for these markets indicates a strong requirement for a lowering of the cost base and a number of initiatives are in progress to deliver this. In addition, the very low harvest has highlighted the importance of progressing to a more variable cost structure, as well as a more competitive one.
Bord na Móna Retail supplies solid fuel, oil, convenience fuel products, professional and retail growing media, for the domestic and international markets. Consumer demand for these products can often be affected by the seasonal weather: for the year under review, the wet spring reduced demand for gardening-related products; but the long winter significantly boosted sales of our domestic briquette, coal and oil heating products.
Peat is the primary feedstock in our retail operations and the very low peat harvest in 2013 resulted in considerable delivery and processing challenges for the business. With the imposition of carbon tax, from 1 May 2013, the business has been focused on extending our brand portfolio with a supporting range of carbon reduced or carbon free products.
Resource Recovery’s business environment continues to be very challenging. The market needs increasing clarity of regulation, policy and direction and, to that end, we welcome the policy statement ‘A Resource Opportunity’ issued by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. In the meantime trading remains difficult as macro economic conditions have led to a continuing reduction in waste volumes. The consequent decline in business activity in the industry has resulted in an unhealthy level of aggressive competition and questionable industry practices including below cost selling which have depressed profitability and caused a number of business failures.
Resource Recovery remains committed to delivering exemplary operating and service standards. These will provide us with a competitive advantage in a future, more stringently regulated market. Furthermore, despite the current industry difficulties, we remain committed to higher order treatment of waste and landfill diversion, and we have progressed a number of related infrastructure projects during the past year. This includes the commissioning of a 25,000 tonnes compost facility at our Drehid waste park. We also attained planning permission for the development of a 250,000 tonnes Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) unit in Drehid.
Anua – Environmental
Anua is a leading provider in the design, manufacture and installation of a portfolio of differentiated, sustainable technologies, offering clean air and water solutions. Our primary activity is focused on the United Kingdom water and air treatment markets from our base in Bridgewater, Somerset. We also market and distribute our technologies in Ireland, North America and selected European markets.
There is a direct correlation between the level of construction industry activity and the business performance in these markets. The severe market shrinkage experienced at the onset of the global economic downturn shows limited signs of recovery and this will continue to challenge business growth. Our focus on business remodelling and reorganisation will make us more competitive and position us to take advantage when favourable market conditions return.
Land and Property
The objective of the Land and Property business unit is to generate commercial, environmental and social value from these key assets.
The Bord na Móna ‘Strategic Framework for the Future Use of Peatlands’ guides our decision making in relation to potential future uses and developments on cutaway bogs. During the year we continued our programme of consultation with interested parties on the strategic framework. We also used the framework to guide our preparation of rehabilitation plans for all our bog areas which have been submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Bord na Móna can play a central role in the development of an alternative water supply for the east of Ireland, including the Greater Dublin Area and surrounding counties. Our site at Garryhinch, on the border of Laois and Offaly, has already been identified as the ideal location to construct a reservoir and treatment facility, which would enable water to be abstracted safely and sustainably from the Shannon. The establishment of Irish Water creates a new context for this project and we continued to pursue its development during 2013.
Bord na Móna is a contributing member of the Peatlands Council set up by the Government to develop a strategy for the responsible management of Ireland’s peatlands. We continue to provide technical and other assistance to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, to support them in dealing with the issue of illegal private turf cutting on special areas of conservation.
Our facility at Lough Boora Parklands is an important heritage and environmental destination in the midlands and, attracts significant numbers of visitors each year. During the year the parklands took part in the national BioBlitz where four sites competed to record the most species of wildlife over a 24 hour period, and some 940 different species were identified and codified. We have recently received planning approval from Offaly County Council to develop further the facilities at the site in order to enhance the visitor experience. In addition, the walking routes and cycle-ways at the parklands will be substantially extended this year with the support of Offaly Local Development.
These various works will be completed during the coming year and will further strengthen Lough Boora’s positive contribution to the community. Bord na Móna continues to co-operate with a number of community and wildlife interest groups to facilitate diverse local and regional projects, including conservation projects, promotion of biodiversity and provision of amenities. For example, this year we supported the work being undertaken by Wetlands Heritage Ireland and Lullymore Heritage Group. More generally, we also participated in the preparation of a plan to develop rural recreation under the auspices of the Department of Community, Environment and Local Government.
The annual review of the Group’s Biodiversity Action Plan was carried out in consultation with environmental groups and other stakeholders, and the continuing progress against our targets as set out in the plan was favourably received.
We undertook physical works, drain blocking for example, during the year to promote rehabilitation actively in a number of sites, including Cuckoo Hill in Co. Galway and Drinagh in Co. Offaly. We also extended our sphagnum moss seeding trials with new sites at Kilberry in Co. Kildare and Srahmore in Co. Mayo.