The installation is situated on the former landfill site at the North Foreshore, now known as Giant’s Park, and will provide enough renewable electricity to supply around 6,000 households.
Speaking at the event, which was also attended by Belfast Lord Mayor, Naomi Long, the Minister said: “This is a very important milestone for our renewables development. The Giant’s Park installation is the largest non-wind renewable generating station to come into operation in Northern Ireland and only the second to produce electricity from landfill gas.
“I look forward to further sites being developed across Northern Ireland, to increase the amount of renewable energy we can harness from landfill gas, an energy source that would otherwise be wasted.
“To facilitate such further development, I announced earlier this month that electricity generated from landfill gas will be provided with a higher level of financial assistance in Northern Ireland, despite significant reductions in the rest of the UK.”
The landfill gas that will produce electricity at the Giant’s Park is a mixture of carbon dioxide and methane, produced from over 10 million tonnes of waste that has been deposited in the 340 acre site since the early 1970s. It is converted to electricity through five generating plants, each with a capacity of 1megawatt (MW).
The generating station itself is part of a wider redevelopment of the North Foreshore landfill area, which is the largest such project in Europe. It is intended that the development will ultimately incorporate sporting, amenity and educational facilities, alongside the Environmental Resource Recovery Park.
Speaking to an audience including representatives from local government, NIE and the company taking forward the project, ‘Renewable Power Systems’, Arlene Foster said she is encouraged by the growth in Northern Ireland’s renewable energy sector.
The Minister said: “Over the past four years, the amount of electricity being produced from renewable energy sources has more than doubled here and now accounts for over 8% of all electricity consumed.
“Most of this is from wind energy but it is important that we develop more predictable renewable sources, such as landfill gas. This installation in the Giant’s Park will help provide the diversity that is so important for our security of supply and will also help us move towards our 2012 target of having 15% of our renewables generation from non-wind sources.”