District heating is a hot topic in countries across Europe at the moment, and the Republic of Ireland is no exception. We were commissioned to examine district heating options by the Western Development Commission for waste heat from the Aurivo dairy ingredients plant, which produces and exports milk powders and butters. The processes at the Aurivo plant require large amounts of high pressure steam, most of which is produced by a 12MW biomass boiler using 25,000 tonnes of wood chips a year. This biomass boiler is one of Ireland’s largest single renewable energy plants.
Production of milk powders is seasonal, and the production process results in surplus hot water being generated from the drying system, particularly during the summer, although there is some generation in winter. We were asked to look at district heating options for the utilising the residual heat, and examined solutions using a heat pump to upgrade the waste heat, with an additional biomass boiler to boost outputs and temperatures during the winter.
Working with Aurivo, the Western Development Commission and local stakeholders, we developed the technical and economic case for a town wide district heating scheme for Balaghaderreen.