Irish food company leads on green energy

A County Dublin food company has become the first in Ireland to set out to power 100 percent of its production using green energy. Country Crest, based in Lusk and owned by brothers, Michael and Gabriel Hoey, has invested €1.5 million in a state-of-the-art wind turbine which commenced powering the plant during a recent visit by Deputy John Gormley, Minister for the Environment.

Commenting on this green initiative, Minister Gormley said, “I am very encouraged that Country Crest had made this crucial investment in wind energy.

“Country Crest is employing people in the area and is conscious of reducing its carbon footprint when producing its wonderful food products,” he added. 

 Country Crest grows and prepacks fresh potatoes, onions and carrots as well as producing 55,000 value added ready meals per week for the Irish retail sector. Its client list includes household names such as Tesco, Superquinn, Dunnes Stores, Centra and Super Valu. Against the current economic trend, since last September the company has increased its employment levels by 45 to 146 in line with the successful expansion of its ready meal sector.

 “At a time when there is international concern about global warming and limited supply of fossil fuels, we’re very happy to play our part by investing in our own renewable energy source,” said Michael Hoey, managing director, Country Crest.

“We believe our wind turbine green initiative will deliver improved competitiveness for the company in the face of rising energy costs,” he added.

The new wind turbine, made and installed by leading German manufacturers, Enercon, has the capacity to reach the 100 percent mark to generate Country Crest’s average energy requirement of 800 kilowatts a day, though there are occasionally less-windy days.

With electricity costs at the plant averaging €30,000 per month the business case is for the investment is self-evident and ultimately the aim is to sell excess power back into the national grid.

 Its green ethos has been central to the philosophy of Country Crest since the company was set up in 1994. As well as now generating its own electricity, Country Crest’s contribution to a cleaner environment includes operating an environmental management system on the farm, using reduced packaging, recycling the water used at the main pack-house and composting the green waste from its onion plant.

“Everything our core business represents comes from the earth and we’ve always had an interest in giving something back to the environment,” says Michael Hoey. “A clean and healthy environment is central to our food philosophy and the way we do business and it’s great to be able to work in a sustainable fashion – as we now can.” 

The next phase in the company’s self-sufficient energy plan is to install an anaerobic digester that will turn the food waste the company generates into methane gas, which can be used to power a generator.

 

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