NRGE (Nutrient Recovery to Generate Electricity) are Agricultural, Environmental, Engineering & Planning Consultants based in Lattin Co Tipperary.
Need guidance and expert advice when it comes to achieving low carbon and reduced costs systematically, in a way that is repeatable and changes your farm for the better and for good? Then pick up the phone and give NRGE a call.
The well-established consultancy company and its joint Managing Directors Michael Sweeney and Michael McEniry boast unrivalled experience in their chosen areas of expertise.
“We established the company in October 2014,” Michael Sweeney answered when asked to reflect on the genesis of NRGE and its subsequent growth.
“It evolved out of two companies that were operating separately prior to that since 1995 – MS Farm Services and M&J McEniry. Michael ran a project management construction business, specialising in the intensive agriculture and milling sectors. We were both dealing with the same clients so, from both of our perspectives, it made sense to come together and provide planning, regulatory compliance, and project management services all under the one roof. We have evolved through word of mouth since then.”
Michael attended Pallaskenry Agricultural College, specialised in dairy management and was heading down that road before taking a diversion into Farm Relief Services in 1984. He was Manager of Tipperary Farm Relief Services for five years up until December 1995.
“I was dealing a lot with supplying staff and services to the pig farm sector,” he recalled. “EPA licensing is critical for the intensive agricultural sector and we currently employ six full-time and two part-time people. Actually, we’re currently in the process of recruiting two more full-time employees.”
Nationally, Ireland has agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 30% compared to 2005 levels by 2030 for the EU effort sharing directive. It’s a challenging target but anaerobic digestion (AD) is one avenue open to farmers.
AD processes plant materials (biomass) into gas for heating and power. The gas is called methane or biogas and is produced by bacteria, which digest biomass and produce methane as a by-product. Biomass agricultural by-products include manure and slurry.
“We’ve just commissioned an anaerobic digestion facility in Timoleague Co Cork. Our partners in this project are Angela & Martin O Donovan pig farmers and Colin Bateman a tillage farmer. The plant will substantially reduce the carbon footprint of the pig farm, and supply high quality fertilizer to the tillage farm, producing green electricity to the grid, and heat recovered for alternate process usage.
“We have been heavily involved in the anaerobic digestion sector since the 2000s after we started to investigate the best alternative treatment options that were out there. We came to the conclusion that anaerobic digestion would be the preferred option but, at that time, we were ahead of where regulatory Ireland was.
“As an example, in 2006 we were granted planning permission and/or EPA licenses for seven AD facilities of which only2 have been built. We were also approved for a DAFM grant for On-Farm Pilot schemes on these 7 sites, of which only 2 have been drawn down.
There was no joined up thinking if you like. In recent years there has been a movement towards biomethane in helping to reducing the carbon footprint of the agricultural sector. We expect to see that approach grow over the next five years and already have mechanisms in place to help us deliver that.”
NRGE has built up a loyal customer base and their clients appreciate the value of the services they provide.
“We deal with approximately 80 core clients, split 50/50 between EPA licensed facilities and those below the threshold. As regards sectors, 50% of our clients would be pig farmers, 25% other sectors, such as poultry and dairy, and the remaining 25% is processing facilities.
“We have clients in every county in Munster as well as in Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Offaly, Wexford, Kilkenny, Kildare and Laois,” Michael added. “Our modus operandi is we will work within an hour and half drive from our headquarters here in Lattin.”
So, what are the most pressing concerns facing NRGE’s client’s at this point in time?
“All of our clients across the board are always looking to see how their business plan, structure and operations can be more sustainable,” Michael replied. “It is critical that an overview is taken of all aspects of the business and any changes that are made have to be aimed at making the business more sustainable.
“Emissions and emission reductions are at the forefront in any projects we prepare. Again, that will be critical looking ahead to the future. We are all aware of the regulations and, in reality that is what we have to do. We investigate the potential to achieve reductions on all sites we work on.
“Sustainability has to be at the core of everything that is looked at and the investment requirements are substantial. That is a factor that we are well aware of,” he concluded.
Michael Sweeney is a Director of NRGE, with over 20 years of experience serving the intensive Agricultural sector, Food Industry, and the Waste Management Sectors, in respect of their Environmental Management Systems, Waste and Nutrient Recovery plans. He is a Director of the AD facility in Timoleague and involved in the GRAZE renewable gas concept at Mitchelstown. A past President of Muintir Na Tire he has a unique knowledge of what a sustainable rural based economy should be.
Michael McEniry is a Director of NRGE – He is an Engineering Graduate of UL with 35 years’ experience, with projects in the intensive agricultural, waste, quarrying and renewable energy sectors. He is involved in policy development for the Renewable Energy Sector through the Renewable Gas Forum and Tipperary Green Business Network. He is the Project Manager for the AD at Timoleague Co Cork. Michael and NRGE are part of the Project Team on the development of Ireland’s first Gas to Grid Project at Cush, Co Kildare and involved in the GRAZE renewable gas concept at Mitchelstown.
Simon Ryan has over 20 years’ experience of nutrient management planning. He manages the nutrient recovery side of the business, covering pig slurry, poultry manure, and organic sludge’s. He has a unique understating of on farm issues, as a past chair of South Tipperary IFA, and running a dairy farm operation with his wife and family.
David Wynne a Graduate from Sligo IT with a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science. Previous experience in all four abattoir sectors (Poultry, Sheep, Cattle and Pork) as a Senior Environmental Manager. Experienced in liaising with government agencies at all levels but specializes in the facilitation of strategic calibration with the EPA on site specific projects across a wide range of sectors. Extensive knowledge with Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTP) having projected managed the construction of a new green field WWTP from all the various stages such as planning, design and commissioning.
Nora Sweeney, and Liz O Brien, are office based and manage the administrative side of NRGE Ltd.
Tel: 062 55385
Email [email protected]
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 8 No 2, Summer 2020