Target beneficiaries / market
Greengrove Wood Energy Ltd benefits the local forestry growers in county Roscommon and surrounding areas. Additionally, it benefits large scale commercial heat users who have installed customised burners. It also has contract with Greenbelt and Coillte.
Green Grove Wood Energy is an innovative renewable energy business based in County Roscommon and established by Michael Spellman and Mark Hanly. Michael Spellman from Kilteevan, Co Roscommon began his research for his business idea in the early 1990s when he set up a forestry business producing and supplying Christmas trees.
Although the business had mixed success Michael did develop extensive contacts in the forestry sector with consultants, contractors and commercial companies. Michael followed closely the introduction of the grant schemes for private planters and the increase in the area under forestry in Ireland. With an international and national focus on renewable energy Michael saw a business opportunity in the area of wood energy in the horizons. Mark Hanly makes up the second part of the Green Grove partnership. Mark is managing director of Greenlawn Horticulture Ltd, his family’s company that has made peat moss from their bog near Strokestown, Co Roscommon. In considering a wood energy business Michael approached Mark with a plan for using a shed facility owned by Mark’s company which has a large storage capacity on a green field site. This massive facility could hold thousands of tonnes of timber as it dried out before it was chipped. Additionally, Mark had spare machinery capacity that could be used in the new business. A business partnership was formed and clear roles were identified.
Michael and Mark carried out a research feasibility study regarding their woodchip business idea. Within the study they considered the current and future supply of usable wood raw materials in Roscommon and surrounding regions and also their likely costs and energy yield. They identified the options for processing the wood into a usable fuel product along with costs for doing this before they made any investment in equipment. They analysedthe heat market in the region into different segments from people with small stoves and central heating systems all the way up to major heat users such as power plants. They were able to decide that the most valuable market for them was medium scale heat users such as hotels/leisure centres, shopping centresand office blocks. They also quantified the number of these users in the region. These heat users have a real need and could make very significant savings by switching to Greengrove’s woodchip. Even with the facilities, research and business partnership in place, just under €300,000 of capital investment was needed at the beginning. Nearly two thirds of this was for a mobile wood chipper, capable of chipping 24-25 tonnes/hour of dry material and 38 tonnes/hour of wet material.
With his contact and research, Michael is in charge of sourcing raw material and selling the woodchips to the end users. Mark’s strength was his mechanical knowledge and as such he is has taken charge of the production process. A grant of €65,000 from mid-south Roscommon LEADER was a huge benefit. Assisted by WESTBIC through business planning and mentoring support, the company has positioned itself as one of the leading enterprises in managing the supply chain for quality wood-chip products throughout the Midlands and West region. A significant number of supply contracts have been secured whilst the development of business alliances within the supply chain aims to ensure the sustainable growth of the business into the future. As testament to the quality and growth potential of this innovative enterprise, Green Grove Wood Energy participated as a finalist in the prestigious JFC Innovation Awards for Rural Business 2007. Furthermore, Green Grove Wood Energy recently featured on Eco-Eye as part of Duncan Stewart’s profile of the emerging wood-energy sector in Ireland.
In speaking to Mark Hanly recently he suggested that Green Grove Wood Energy was facing challenging times with the current Irish economic recession and indeed with the fluctuations in oil prices however he was confident that with contract from Coillte and Greenbelt they could survive and grow in the future.