High tech bio-energy lab opens in Enniskillen

Gina McIntyre, chief executive (Designate) SEUPB, Vincent Reynolds, CITC, Malachy McAleer, SWC and (front) Tim Stokes, CREST manager, SWC
Gina McIntyre, chief executive (Designate) SEUPB, Vincent Reynolds, CITC, Malachy McAleer, SWC and (front) Tim Stokes, CREST manager, SWC

Northern Ireland’s largest green technology training facility has opened a state-of-the-art laboratory in Enniskillen.

The newly extended CREST facility complete with a purpose-built bioenergy laboratory designed to advance international research and boost local industry was part-financed through the INTERREG IVA Programme with support from the Special EU Programmes Body.

The bioenergy lab is the latest addition to the CREST Centre which opened at South West College’s Technology and Skills Centre in January.

The facility has been match funded by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland and Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland.

Understood to be the most extensive research facility of its type in Northern Ireland, the unit is the latest development for the £2.9m project and puts South West College among a small group of international colleges with the capacity to contribute to world-leading bioenergy research.

The lab is equipped with a suite of specialist technologies that can be used to process and analyse various biomass residues to assess their suitability for producing biofuels, energy and value added products.

Tim Stokes, CREST Centre Manager said: “Technology in this sector is evolving at incredible pace and it is important that Northern Ireland is in a position to stay ahead of the curve. Ultimately, facilities like this are about propelling clients towards greater efficiencies, compliance with government targets and competitiveness on the global stage. We know that other regions have much lower energy costs, but technologies like those available here are levelling the playing field.”

Finance Minister Arlene Foster added: “This R&D laboratory, which ranks among the top ‘clean and green’ training facilities in the UK, is the culmination of a unique collaboration of expertise and resources from the South West College and its project partners in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Its completion demonstrates what can be achieved when individuals and organisations work in partnership towards a shared vision that is mutually beneficial.”