Winning renewables solution for Scottish farm


27 April 2020
Winning renewables solution for Scottish farm


There aren’t too many opportunities to invest in a solution that offers a range of benefits for your farm, that sees Government also paying you for doing it, but that’s exactly what a farm in the Scottish Borders has done. The system they have invested in has a payback time of four years – after that it’s pure profit.

David and Peter Allan’s farm has 2,400 acres of arable land in East Reston growing potatoes, swede, grain and oil seed rape. They were looking for ways of reducing their use of fossil fuel driven heating and chilling solutions and met up with a locally based business that offered exactly that solution – but better – their solution also offered twenty years of Government funding for the energy, generated through the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI).

The company – Calibrate Energy Engineering – has a raft of installation case studies that offered immediate hope to the Allan’s’ showing examples of a similar system to that being offered to them, that were already in place and delivering these same benefits.
Calibrate’s expertise lies in the ability to harness the natural energy resources of an area of land to provide its clients with a reliable, low cost, on-going available source of heating for commercial applications. It’s the combination of an integrated heat pump system using a ground source heat pump - that extracts heat from under the soil - and a bespoke control system that delivers the goods for those investing in this system.

The bespoke control system enables Government RHI tariffs to be maximised and the system can be straightforwardly integrated with other renewable systems on the farm.

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In this instance the Allan’s have invested in a 1996kW Ground Source heat pump as part of the system designed to meet the individual needs of their business. 34,000 metres of coiled underground pipe was laid and a heat gathering fluid run through it, similar to antifreeze, absorbing the latent heat from the ground surrounding it, taking it to the heat pump which is installed close by. The heat pump uses a mix of heat exchangers to compress the heat – much in the reverse of the way a fridge works – to provide hot air and hot water. The preheated air is directed into the grain dryer, drying floor and to heat the workshops.  The hot water is used for the cleaning equipment, washing potatoes and swedes providing a 100% replacement for the previously fossil fuel fired hot water supply. Cost savings are maximised as a result of the free by-product of the heat generation – the substantial chilling capacity of the heat pump provides 80% of the chill load required in the cold stores on the farm, using a non-toxic glycol system.

The figures are staggering – there is clearly a cost in investing in the equipment, but this is totally paid back within four years of the installation. After that, there is virtually no cost to running the system. The system provides heat at 35°C at 350% efficiency and chilling at 1°C at 300% efficiency – a total efficiency for the system of 650%.

As an added benefit, Calibrate can provide a 20 year all-inclusive warranty and maintenance cover to ensure there are no unexpected surprises with the technology – that’s the period over which the RHI payments are payable by Government for the renewable energy generated by the system.

Peter Allan says that the system is already beginning to live up to its promises:
We commissioned Calibrate to design and install this system for us – one that suited our particular needs and provided the heating and chilling that we needed to run our business. The project has progressed extremely efficiently and is now in full operation. We’re looking forward to the long-term benefits of the system and the additional income from the RHI that will be vital in the ongoing success of our business here.”

Calibrates Susie McDonald says the system is proven and offers farms a real opportunity to benefit from the Government’s renewable heating incentive for commercial operations:
Using tried and tested ground source heat pump technology combined with our own bespoke control package, allows the owners of our systems to maximise the benefits associated with the system. A ground source heat pump takes heat from the ground and processes that heat to provide heat and cooling utilising our control package. This control provides feedback for the farm across a wide range of processes being undertaken while allowing Calibrate to configure the most efficient use of the system, while also allowing them to monitor closely the real time tariff generation of the system and power consumption readings that enables them to see in real time the amount of heating and cooling energy being produced. Clients know what the RHI tariff delivers in terms of income per kilowatt generated, allowing them to keep a close eye on the outcome of their investment at any time.

Calibrates new innovative concept of Demand Side Response – or DSR fits perfectly with the ever-growing costs of electricity usage. Using Calibrate’s bespoke fully automated site software, the DSR incentivises energy users to increase or reduce energy usage at times of peak or low demand. It makes sense to use energy when the demand and cost of energy is low rather than to use energy when demand is high, and the cost is high. The National Grid must maintain a certain level of energy production capacity, above the actual demand, so it can respond quickly if demand increases. DSR is the mechanism Calibrate uses to provide that margin with the primary business arguments for DSR being financial remuneration and sustainability. DSR not only allows businesses contributing to the National Grid to avoid higher energy prices – it also allows them to receive remuneration during times of peak and low demand.