The Feedstock business supplies peat and biomass materials for the generation of electricity in Bord na Mona’s Edenderry Power station, and the two ESB power stations at West Offaly Power and Lough Ree Power. Feedstock also supplies peat and biomass to Bord na Mona’s Consumer and Professional business for the supply of professional and retail growing media products and the manufacture of peat briquettes. The Feedstock business has specific challenges in all its markets as the demand for peat declines and price pressures increase. The impending expiry of the Public Service Obligation support mechanism, has necessitated the initiation of major transformational change and restructuring in order to maintain a sustainable business and sustainable jobs well into the future.
The Feedstock business achieved an improved performance for 2015 compared to the previous year. Turnover for the year at €146.4 million showed an increase of €4.3 million or 2.9% on the previous year. Sales for Power Generation increased by 4.1% and there was a reduction of 17.4% in relation to sales to Bord na Mona factories for the heating and horticultural markets. Biomass sales showed an increase of 19% compared to the previous year and accounted for 27% of all through-put at Edenderry Power Plant.
Despite a slow start, favourable weather conditions during the peak harvesting period resulted in a harvest of 4.45 million tonnes of milled peat which was a gain of 14.0% against target. This excellent harvest enhanced the quality and quantum of peat stocks remaining from 2013 leading to a very strong closing stock position of 5.88 million tonnes of peat. A record amount of 3.0 million tonnes of peat stocks was covered with polythene film in order to protect our good quality peat stocks from storm damage and rewetting.
Biomass procurement and supply reached a record 284,000 tonnes and exceeded target by 5.1%. As a result Powergen were able to achieve a co-firing rate of 27%. New potential biomass products were sourced and consumed and we extended our purchase of pulpwood from the private forestry sector to 20,000 tonnes.
Engagement commenced with Coillte on the establishment of BioEnergy Ireland. This Bord na Mona/Coillte Joint Venture business will be instrumental in mobilising the private forestry sector and will promote the growing of BioEnergy crops in the Midlands for use in our co-firing programme.
Feedstock’s peat operations systems are accredited to ISO9001, which was achieved in December 2014. This system enables and assists Feedstock to commit to the timely supply of high quality products to its customers and in doing so to commit to continually improving the quality of these products. It supports the business in the setting of meaningful and challenging objectives for the business and its employees and to fostering innovation delivered through the excellence and commitment of our people.
Feedstock is licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency under nine integrated pollution Control Licences, consenting operations across nine counties in the midlands and west. These permit and control emissions to water, air and land and include requirements for responsible decommissioning and aftercare of cutaway boglands. Feedstock is the only regulated peat extraction company in Ireland and as such manages its operations and after use in accordance with best practice. This includes managed decommissioning, stabilization, rehabilitation and consideration of potential amenity values, as well as commercial opportunities. Feedstock is committed to continually improving its compliance levels with active programmes underway seeking to minimise our impact on the environment.
The coming year sees the ending of the Public Service Obligation peat support mechanism and the must-run status for Edenderry power. A significant and challenging cost reduction and business transformation initiative has been introduced. An extensive and ongoing engagement and communication programme has been implemented for all employees and other stakeholders. Stakeholder understanding and buy-in is vital for the future of this transformation process and the ongoing survival of our business.
The Feedstock business strategy is to fully utilise our peat resources and extract maximum value by extending the running of the three peat-fired power stations and continuing to provide high quality peat for growing media and eco briquettes. This will be achieved through restructuring of our cost base through business transformation and provision of suitable and competitive biomass for co-firing. This will sustain our business and employment for many years to come.
The Feedstock business faces significant challenges in all its core markets and has begun a major transformational change programme in order to create a sustainable business and sustainable employment. The supply price for peat will reduce and in turn the business will move to a variable cost model in order to reflect the increasingly variable nature of our business. The traditional management structures in the business have been replaced by a more customer focused structure with clearer goals and responsibilities.
Customers: Feedstock is committed to supplying its customers with the quantity and quality of peat and biomass products at a price that enables them to operate in increasingly competitive markets. We are committed to providing material that enables our customers to expand their range of products in new markets.
Employees: Feedstock is committed to provide sustainable, well paid employment for our staff into the future. We will continue to provide a safe place of work and safe systems of work. We will demonstrate and promote the company values of Engaging, Resourceful and Respectful.
Environment: Feedstock is committed to complying with the terms of our Environmental licences in order to minimise our impact on the surrounding environment. We will preserve important examples of raised bog areas and are committed to decommission and rehabilitate our boglands as they exit the production phase. We are committed to leaving a positive and productive legacy in the communities in which we operate. We will reduce our energy footprint by adopting best practice in energy management and investing in and promoting increased energy efficiency.