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Wallace welcomes Department's contract for wood chip

Ms Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food with responsibility for forestry, today announced the signing of a contract with Natural Power Supply Ltd, a Waterford based company, for the supply of woodchip for the newly installed biomass heating system in the Department's offices in Johnstown Castle Estate, Co. Wexford.

The Minister of State commented: "This project is a positive step in reducing the carbon footprint of the Department and it will also aid in reducing the risks associated with our dependence on imported fossil fuels. Wood energy, as a home-grown, renewable, sustainable, carbon neutral and secure source of fuel, can make a significant contribution to Ireland meeting its renewable energy targets."

The Department's decentralised office in Wexford can accommodate up to 400 civil servants, and was first opened in 1998. The newly installed boiler is a 300 kilowatt (KW) Dantrim and will be used for heating and hot water. This is the first Government Department to have such a heating system installed and it can act as a template for other such initiatives in the future.

James Kennedy, Managing Director of Natural Power Supply (NPS), Ballymountain, Waterford, said his company was very pleased to be awarded the fuel supply contract and commented: "The fuel to heat this installation in Johnstown Castle will be sourced as thinnings from various forests in Co. Wexford, chipped and then stored locally until required. Another source is coppiced willow, grown on local NPS farms, some of which was harvested this spring."

Mr. Kennedy added: "Very little energy is wasted in actually transporting the fuel to Johnstown Castle, which added to the fact that wood fuel is carbon-neutral, makes this a very environmentally-friendly solution. It also means we have very high levels of security of supply and the cost of heating these buildings is reinvested in the immediate local economy. As wood-fuel is significantly cheaper than oil or other fossil fuels, we believe that this is a 'win-win' situation for all involved".

Minister of State Wallace said that she was pleased that her Department was leading by example in switching to wood energy and concluded by thanking the Office of Public Works for their assistance in the conversion project.

3 April 2007

Date Released: 03 April 2007