ATU has been working with the Government and SEAI to get its biomass heat centre project up and running. It wants to be a lead in renewables research.

Atlantic Technological University’s (ATU) Letterkenny campus has unveiled a new biomass heat centre, which is being used to make the college more environmentally friendly.

Biomass fuel is a renewable energy that comes from organic feedstocks, including wood from forestry by-products, poultry litter from chicken farms and straw from tillage. The new biomass heat centre at ATU can potentially provide heat to a large section of one of the campus’s main buildings.

ATU received Government funding of €1.9m to build the centre. The funding was awarded via the Energy Efficiency Decarbonisation Pathfinder Programme for Higher Education. The programme has been running since 2017, and aims to help universities lead the way in implementing renewable energy measures and retrofitting plans.

It is administered through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and Higher Education Authority (HEA).

“An aim of our Energy Efficiency and Decarbonisation Pathfinder Programme is to support the higher education sector in achieving their climate action targets while also expanding our body of knowledge in relation to renewable technologies, energy efficiency improvements and carbon reduction measures,” said CiarĂ¡n McCaffrey, head of capital programmes at the HEA.

Minister of State Ossian Smyth commented that he was delighted to see another university benefitting from the programme. Dr Orla Flynn, president of ATU, said the opening of the biomass heat centre marked a milestone in ATU’s progression to more sustainable energy forms.

“The biomass centre is a testament to ATU’s dedication to environmental stewardship and innovation in energy efficiency,” she said.

ATU is not the only university heating up its innovation output thanks to biomass renewables. Munster Technological University (MTU) is involved in a research project called BBioNets that aims to help farmers and foresters use bio-based technologies to slash their emissions.

Blathnaid O’Dea 

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