Renewable Energy Opportunities for Farmers
The rapid growth of the renewables industry has been of great advantage to farmers United Kingdom wide. Making sense of it all, however, can be difficult with policy changes, planning permissions and the question of profitability.
Alistair Fell, Renewables Specialist from H&H Land and Property highlights two renewable energy opportunities that are becoming increasingly popular: Anaerobic Digestion and Biomass.
Anaerobic digestion and Biomass are now leading contenders in the bid to reduce on farm costs and make the most of the resources we have at hand to produce energy or heat.
“We are currently involved in several large scale Anaerobic Digestion (AD) projects and the installation of plants, from 500kW up to 2MW using both maize silage and commercial waste. However the area where we have seen the most growth is in small scale AD, generally looking at between 50kW and 250kW plants. As an example, one of our clients is investing in an 80kW AD plant. This will be fed with the slurry from his 300 dairy herd and 30 hectares of grass silage.”
The plant will cost in the region of £600,000 and should see a simple payback from FIT income alone of approximately 6.5 years. Excess heat produced by the plant will be utilised which earns RHI payments and will reduce the payback period further. One possibility is to dry the solid digestate by-product that is produced and use this as bedding for cattle which will further reduce costs. The liquid part of the digestate by-product can alternatively be used as a fertiliser.
“We are seeing a surge of dairy farmers coming to us for advice on small scale AD plants, the return on investment is very attractive and our approach is to scale the plant so that it utilises the feedstocks you have on farm without having to find massive amounts of silage from the farm. The aim is to improve your farming operation not change it completely”.
Alistair is also finding a large amount of people are seeking advice on Biomass heating as an alternative to oil;