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Sugar Beet Revival

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dave182
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I learned over the past week of the fairly ambitious plans by Beet Ireland PLC to bring back sugar production to the island. This is steaming ahead with farmers having secured quotas for 2017 and beyond, only 3 years away. I'm speculating, but I believe a preferred production site has been secured in the South Kildare area, which is very well served by road and rail. As well as sugar the plant will be producing liquid ethanol.

 

If this rough location were to become a reality, do you think there is a business case for a rail link, given the much improved road network across the south? This location would put much of the traditional beet growing areas within 2 hours drive. Surely difficult for rail to compete with?

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And just an afterthought, if rail were being considered then surely that would involve the Limerick Junction to Rosslare line being revived? Is there an appetite at Government level and IE to be investing in rail freight? Another potential 'gift' of a freight flow that they probably don't really want.

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Well, if it did go ahead, the spin off industries are far more suitable to the economic environment than anytime in the past - molasses for producing citric acid, ethanol, and beet pulp for farm foods. What's more, the demand for sugar by the likes of Kelloggs, Cadbury for chocolate crumb, and Coca-cola all based on the island, mean they will be lobbying for it. It stands a 50/50 chance, if even Simon Coveney's brother is the head of Greencore, the previous beet monopoly oligarchs who unnecessarily destroyed the industry...

 

At least CIE have the wagons to carry the stuff - open bulk containers on 42' flats.... R

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Also strong possibility that biomass traffic from either Dublin Port or Waterford Port - Ballina will commence in the near future. Not sure what wagons would be used for this by IE, as I know in the UK, there is an ever increasing pool of recently built specialised biomass wagons coming into service. Not sure if biomass traffic requires a specific wagon type, or can be carried in any kind of wagon.

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Also strong possibility that biomass traffic from either Dublin Port or Waterford Port - Ballina will commence in the near future. Not sure what wagons would be used for this by IE, as I know in the UK, there is an ever increasing pool of recently built specialised biomass wagons coming into service. Not sure if biomass traffic requires a specific wagon type, or can be carried in any kind of wagon.

 

These are the babies being used in the UK on the Drax Biomass flow

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOJuvkzijLA

 

As far as I know the biomass needs to be kept dry. While I'd love to see nice big hoppers on dedicated trains I'm guessing it'll be a few containers with a rag thrown over it.

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Biomass needs to be kept dry, so whatever form of wagon is used, will need to be covered. The cements could, in theory, be used if they have a pneumatic pump to unload and load the biomass pellets. However, can't envisage them being the most efficient way to load this traffic for transportation, unless they undergo some modifications.

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They could lid the shale wagons like they did for the two shale wagons that were converted into taras.

 

It'll probably be containers as the cargo will have to be transported by road from the railhead to its final destination.

 

Garfield, I take it you go to mass with eco-friendly wafers, in a church lit by rainwater and heated by wind! ;-)

 

Nah, I have a lie-in instead! :P

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I get more and more frustrated with this country every day! I am reading this thread with my mouth wide open- In my naivety I thought for a split moment that we might be EXPORTING biomass, or at least moving it to industry at the south end of the country. Never mind that we have a super climate and lots of unused land across the west and north of the country, sure why would we be bothering with that biomass stuff? (And don't get me started about natural gas!)

 

Back on topic, it would make sense for IE to use containers in the short term for biomass. A 45' high cube container for example holds 86 cubic metres, about 2/3rds of those purpose built Drax wagons. I'm also thinking that because the product is pellets, the might use something like a 30' IBC/IFF style of container. These have hatches in the roof for loading, and are emptied using a tipping road trailer. Not sure what kind of weight is involved with biomass- I've seen 45' versions of these containers for carrying light pellet product like plastic pellets. It would certainly add some variation for modellers.

 

Is there enough freight to Ballina yet to warrant the re-opening of the western rail corridor?!? With Sugar Beet coming as well it could potentially be a very busy line once more.... (as he drifts off into an orange black and white filled dream world...)

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Are Coca Cola planning to convert the Ballina Beverages plant to burn biomass or has someone built a power station?

 

Presumably the "biomass" is sawmill waste from the US & Canada compressed into pellets and export 5000-6000 miles. Hardly likely to reduce the carbon footprint compared to electricity produced from coal or natural gas.

 

Funnily enough ESB converted some of its sod peat stations such as Cahirciveen to run on biomass (willow and other quick growing trees) more than 30 years ago.

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I know of a guy in the Wexford area who installed a biomass facility to provide heat intensive business, and he said it was the worst thing he has done because he can't source product here- Irish farmers simply not growing enough and don't seem to have an appetite for it either. Price is now higher than oil or gas. He's pooling resources with othe users and gonna start importing by the ship load.

 

My idea was that farmers in the west my have embraced it and be railing product to the south. I also think that the big ESB plant in Edenderry has been upgraded to Biomass. I assume that the plan would be to plant old bogs with willow and draw it back like the turf.

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Are Coca Cola planning to convert the Ballina Beverages plant to burn biomass or has someone built a power station?

 

Presumably the "biomass" is sawmill waste from the US & Canada compressed into pellets and export 5000-6000 miles. Hardly likely to reduce the carbon footprint compared to electricity produced from coal or natural gas.

 

Funnily enough ESB converted some of its sod peat stations such as Cahirciveen to run on biomass (willow and other quick growing trees) more than 30 years ago.

 

There is some talk of a biomass plant starting up on the former Asahi site in Killala. The Asahi plant was responsible for a lot of rail freight in it's day. Perhaps a new industry on the very same site will generate more rail freight in the future!

http://www.mayorenewablepower.ie/

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Hi dave182

 

I switched to biomass fuel (sawdust logs) for home heating in a back-boiler stove, a packet of four logs cost €7.50 compared to €3.70 for a bail of bricketts at the time, they both weighed roughly the same. When using the stuff I found two packets of biomass produced the same energy as one bail of bricketts, it also produced a huge amount of thick black tar if I damped down the air intake. The stove and flue had to be cleaned once a week otherwise the tar gummed up the whole works.

 

I could not always get the stuff, or my orders were reduced to spread what was available

 

In the end I went back to bricketts, far cheaper, less hassle

 

James Lovelock has published some interesting facts & figures on biomass production and its use in America, in some areas there is only biomass crops farmed and no food crops, and the trend is escalating! Also bio-diesel burnt in trucks is just as environmentally harmful as the real stuff.

 

If their going to move it by train the hoppers will have to be on the scale of Fran's video above or a train of small stock like the cement wagons, up to 60 or so! Trucking would be a nightmare and environmentally wrong.

 

We invent these alternative fuels and call them green but in actual fact their not. The cement industries here have a product they call 'Green Cement' because it comes in an environmentally friendly bag! - cement production and its use is one of the most environmentally unfriendly production systems in the world.

 

Oh yes and- we pay huge fines to thems in Europe for digging up the bogs, somewhere in the region of €25 million annually.

 

I hear BosKonay saying - '60 wagons'........

 

murrayec

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Killala seems an odd spot for a power station unless imported biomass is just a stop gap, or perhaps there are good tax breaks for setting up a "renewable" energy plant. A 50MW the proposed plant is less than half the size of Edenderry and 1/8 the size of Drax so is unlikely to need long trains of covered hopper wagons or a rebuild of the line to Killala.

 

Funnily enough locally produced industrial Ethanol was once an important traffic on the Ballina Branch, typically the plant was built alongside the line near Lough Conn, typically both CIE & Chemicals Teo. were allergic to a private siding serving the plant. Some how or other the DNGR had no problem providing a siding to the Cooley Pant

Edited by Mayner
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A reopened Killala branch, eh? Brings to mind my one-time plan to do a layout based on Achill having reopened as a heritage line!

 

I don't foresee that happening. When they didn't reopen it when the Asahi plant opened, they are unlikely to do so now. I think one of the reasons for not reopening the Killala line at the time of the Asahi opening was the amount of buildings standing on the old line. I bet the amount of buildings on the line has multiplied by three or four in the intervening years....

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You guys are nothing if not perpetual optimists when it comes to your railways. It would, indeed, be lovely to see new freight flows on new routes, but it all takes time and I mean time. We are talking here of public money, and it doesn't matter if it's British, Irish or any other country's money, you have to show value for money. You have to tick every box, jump over hurdle and than do it again and again. After all, it's our money that the state is spending and we all pay more than enough in the way of taxes, etc.

It was very sad when the beet traffic from Wellington Bridge stopped but it was probably going to stop anyway. Eventually someone in authority would have realised that it was only for three months of the year, with the wagons standing idle for the remaining nine. So much better to have them used for the whole year!

Stephen

Stephen

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You guys are nothing if not perpetual optimists when it comes to your railways.

 

We have to be. The "real world" would drive us nuts.

 

Just did a bit of research on the Killala story for Biomass. Planning Application 10997 is for a Biomass facility in the Killala Business Park, which has ESB International, a power generating station and Shutz (dry goods container specialists) in adjacent buildings. Seems it will be processed there and driven to Ballina for onward, unless anyone else has better first hand info.

 

Thurles in the good ol days...

 

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