Rising to the top

Energy efficiency yields award for Irish cream liqueur producer

Article appeared in issue 5, 2020

Pivoting to meet the challenges of life in a pandemic, the 2020 SEAI Energy Awards took place online last month and Terra Spirits and Liqueurs, Ireland’s largest family-owned producer of Irish cream liqueurs, took home the Small and Medium Business Exemplary Energy Management Award.

The drinks company, which is in Bailieboro, Co. Cavan, produces and exports Irish cream liqueurs to over 60 markets worldwide. In recent years, it has invested significantly in energy efficiency and decarbonisation and reduced its energy consumption by 20%. Projects delivered include two phases of solar photovoltaics, heat pump installation, waste water reduction, heat recovery and the transition from oil to Bio LPG. Terra recognised the combined benefits of reducing the site’s environmental impact through energy reduction measures while delivering cost reduction, quality improvement and overall customer satisfaction. Upon receiving the award, Shaun McKevitt of Terra Spirits and Liqueurs said: “We are delighted to have won the SME Award at this year’s SEAI Energy Awards. It is great recognition of all the hard work we’ve put into energy management over the last number of years. As a rural business producing quality Irish cream liqueurs and other alcoholic beverages that are drawn from nature, we have a natural appreciation for the importance of protecting the environment we operate in. Winning the 2020 SEAI Energy Management Award is a testament to the sustainability initiatives that we have put in place at Terra and endorses our plans to continue to invest in this further.”

The SEAI Energy Awards

SEAI is Ireland’s national energy authority and is funded by the Government of Ireland through the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. The SEAI Energy Awards recognise excellence in energy efficiency and renewable energy, and this year saw 124 entries, with projects delivering combined energy savings of €42 million. William Walsh, CEO of SEAI, commented: “Despite the significant challenges this year, the volume and quality of entries reflects an unwavering commitment of individuals and organisations to sustainable energy and climate action. The next decade will demand accelerated and significant change in every part of our society to reduce our carbon emissions. SEAI will support those who want to take such action.”

Ten awards were presented to individuals, businesses, communities, and public sector organisations on the night, and the Innovative Deployment of Renewable Energy Winner was Green Generation. This Kildare-based company uses anaerobic digestion to convert agricultural and food waste to renewable energy. Green Generation harnesses natural microbial activity to break down organic waste into biogas and an organic fertiliser by-product. Half of the biogas is used to produce renewable electricity which is sent to the national grid. The rest is upgraded to 'biomethane' which is injected into the natural gas grid. Unsold food from Tesco is fed to the anaerobic digester, and the biogas generated is sold back to Tesco for use in their stores. The plastic packaging from the food is processed to manufacture durable plastic products using 'waste' heat from electricity generation, and finally, the digestate from the process is once again used as fertiliser to grow food. This was seen as an excellent example of the circular economy in practice.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan joined the winners at the online ceremony. “The SEAI Energy Awards celebrate success, leadership and ambition in sustainable energy,” he said. “I believe Ireland’s energy transition is going to be good for us as a country and our people are going to be good at it. We have real skills and capabilities, and it starts with everyone in their own way making change, demanding change, and delivering it. I congratulate those participating in the SEAI Energy Awards who are committed to the change that’s needed and are already helping to create a cleaner energy future.”