05040 DARD Renewable Booklet.indd by dfsiopmhy6


									                                                       Renewables Open Day

Int r od u c t i o n

As CAFRE College Director, I wish to extend
a warm welcome to all our visitors to the
Renewables Open Day hosted by CAFRE
at our Loughry Campus. The day plans to
offer everyone an insight into the potential of
renewable technology to make a difference
in the land based sectors and the wider
rural communities.

The reduction of greenhouse gases, and
in particular carbon dioxide, is a challenge
faced across the globe. However, this
challenge also provides opportunities for
our agricultural industry. This may be in
terms of becoming more energy efficient
within our businesses or creating market
opportunities for the land based sectors to
‘harvest renewable energy from the land’.

I trust today will challenge you to explore these opportunities and provide you with the
information to make business decisions.

Finally, I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the organising committee comprising
staff from CAFRE, UFU, Carbon Trust, Action Renewables, AFBI and RSPB.

I hope you have an informative and thought provoking day.

John Fay

CAFRE Director

                                                        Renewables Open Day

Ren e wa b l e E n e r g y A cti o n Plan

Env i r o n m e n t a l P o l i c y Br an ch

International recognition of the global impact of increasing greenhouse gas emissions
came in the form of the Kyoto Protocol. Alternative carbon reducing or neutral energy
technologies will be key to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Allied to the need to cut
emissions of greenhouse gases is the need to ensure a sustainable energy supply in the
future. Renewable energy resources will help form part of a portfolio of technologies that
will provide the means of responding to these challenges. Identifying such opportunities
will not only help Northern Ireland to deliver its targets for use of renewable fuel sources,
but renewable crops and technologies will also open up new income streams for
agriculture and will help broaden its economic base. At a time of low incomes from many
of the traditional farming sectors, the potential of alternative income streams will be of
interest to the rural community.

As a commitment to future development in an area that is evolving rapidly , the Department
of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has developed a Renewable Energy Action
Plan. This Action Plan was published on 29 January 2007, under an overall theme of:

“promoting the opportunities afforded by the sustainable development of renewable energy
in the agri-food, forestry sectors and wider rural economy”

The Action Plan has two broad objectives:
1.   To support the exploitation of opportunities for alternative land uses and sustainable
management of agri-food waste linked to renewable energy; and
2.     To underpin knowledge and increase awareness of renewable energy technologies.

Actions under the first objective comprise support for:
•      profitable energy crop production;
•      supply chain development;
•      forestry products and by-products;
•      use of agri-food waste for energy;
•      deployment of renewable energy technologies within the wider rural economy;
•      energy efficiency.

Actions under the second objective comprise:
•      investment in renewable technologies in the DARD estate (demonstrating leadership
and facilitating technology transfer);
•      investment in research and development;
•      education and knowledge transfer activities.

The draft EU Competitiveness and Employment Programmes 2007-13 recently submitted
to the European Commission contain provision under the European Regional Development
Fund to establish an Energy from Agri-food Waste Challenge Fund.

This Measure was proposed by DARD (though DETI will be the Managing Authority) to
encourage the intensive livestock and food processing sectors to develop and support a
range of sustainable technologies which utilise agricultural manures and food processing
wastes to produce renewable energy.

Some of the proposed measures of the Renewable Energy Action Plan are subject to EU
approval. The Department will therefore review and update the Plan in 2008. This review
will reflect the priorities and aspirations of an incoming Executive.

A dedicated policy lead will shortly be installed within DARD to help drive forward the
renewables agenda.

The Renewable Energy Action plan can be viewed on the DARD website:


                                                          Renewables Open Day

CAF R E C u t s C a r b o n
Nigel Moore, Renewable Energy Technologist, CAFRE

CAFRE’s Renewable Energy Strategy aims to develop, demonstrate and ensure adoption
of a range of renewable energy technologies, in partnership with public and private sector
organisations, which will assist rural communities and the CAFRE estate meet Government


CAFRE have set out a number of targets which include:
(i)      10% reduction in energy consumption (electricity and oil) within the CAFRE estate;
(ii)     5% of CAFRE’s energy consumption to be derived from renewable sources;
(iii)    25% of CAFRE’s diesel fuel usage will be as biodiesel.

Knowledge and Technology Transfer Projects

The aim of these projects is to demonstrate transferable technologies that can be adopted
by farmers, horticulturalists and rural dwellers.

Energy Efficiency

In early 2007, in conjunction with the Carbon Trust, the Farm Energy Centre was tasked
with researching the energy use of the main enterprises in Northern Ireland agriculture
and horticulture. In addition, a pilot study of farm audits was carried out on 14 dairy
Focus Farms. The results of this work appear elsewhere in this booklet but it highlighted
that production agriculture in Northern Ireland spent £35-40 million on energy which
approximated to 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. They identified that using energy
efficiency measures there was the potential to reduce this by 10-15%. As this work
continues, a series of energy efficiency training programmes will be delivered.

Renewable Crops

A 25 ha renewable crop rotation has been established at Loughry Campus which will
demonstrate the agronomy and economics of the production of renewable crops. Emphasis
will be placed on the production of added value crops, taking the producer past farm gate
sales, into the area of selling:
•       energy rather than willowchip;
•       high value lubricants rather than oilseeds; and
•       nutraceutical products which have been tested and evaluated by the Innovation Team
        at the Food Technology Centre.

Biomass Boiler

A 150kW biomass boiler has been installed at Shannon Hall on Loughry Campus.
This boiler will provide 20-25% of the heat required for the Campus. Heat meters will
accurately measure the performance of the boiler and the volume and quality of the fuel
will be carefully monitored to fully assess the performance and running costs of using this
technology. The boiler will be fuelled by locally sourced woodchip.

Wind Turbine

A 5kW wind turbine has been installed at the Horticulture Development Centre at
Greenmount. The electricity generated will be directed towards meeting the requirements
of two 300m2 polytunnels, for the provision of fans to circulate air and also for the
supplementary lights during the winter months in the cultivation of extended season lilies.
The anticipated payback for this technology is eight years. The output and efficiency of
electricity generation will be closely monitored.

Further plans are in place to install a wind turbine at Loughry Campus to help meet the
electrical requirements of the Food Technology Centre, where there is a steady demand
required to run the refrigeration units. The size of this turbine will be in the 20-50kW range.

Multifuel Sustainable Energy Module (Horticulture Development Centre)

This sustainable energy module incorporates a biomass boiler, solar thermal technology
and a flue gas heat recovery system. This set up will provide heating for the Venlo
glasshouses plus additional frost protection for four Cambridge glasshouses. It is
anticipated that it will result in a saving of 45% in heating costs and a reduction in Carbon
Footprint of 52 tonnes carbon per year.

This unit will allow the demonstration of a range of biomass fuels such as woodchip, grain,
oilseed cake and also mixtures of fuels. In addition, solar technology will be used to store
heat during the day to provide frost protection in the glasshouses at night. The payback on
this installation is estimated at 10 years.


In addition to running the CAFRE fleet of road-going vehicles on biodiesel, students at
CAFRE will be involved in a project to monitor the engine performance of two New Holland
tractors run on 100% biodiesel. This is part of New Holland’s EU Biodiesel Evaluation
Programme across Europe and provides an excellent opportunity for engineering students
to develop their knowledge and skills with cutting edge technology.

                                                      Renewables Open Day

UFU o n R e n e w a b l e s
Colin Smith, Policy Officer, UFU

With climate change high up the political agenda in many countries the UFU welcomes
the opportunity to be involved in the Renewables Open day at Loughry College. At a time
when producer returns from many food commodities remains low, the UFU recognises the
importance of securing new alternative land use opportunities for its members which can
bring better returns.

The UFU is pleased that Government realises the importance of putting resources in
place to help guide farmers who are interested in becoming involved in renewable energy
ventures. CAFRE have committed to provide an advisory role, offering advice from how to
grow energy crops, to offering on-farm scale demonstrations of renewable technologies.

Cutting-edge research and development will be critical in taking this process forward and
AFBI has a vital role to play, for example in the production of biofuels from grasses which
would be very relevant to our climate.

There are many potentially exciting alternative land uses for the farming industry and we
aim to ensure that Northern Ireland farmers are given as much information as possible, as
they consider if this is a possible new direction for their businesses.

            Farmers in their hundreds attended a renewable conference
                         organised by the UFU in January

UFU has sought the support of the main Political Parties towards a public procurement
drive for renewables. This is essential to creating the market, helping supply chains to be
established, and to raise awareness of the role agriculture can play in meeting sustainable
targets, while crucially securing new income streams for rural communities.

We are encouraged by reports of newly formed farmer companies securing major
contracts to heat housing developments, leisure centres and schools with locally grown
and processed biomass.

Our Rural Enterprise Committee will continue to press for viable opportunities to emerge
for farmers from renewables. With the launch of DARD’s Renewable Energy Action Plan,
we expect Government to take a more proactive approach.

Farming has solutions to help industry and society as a whole with many local and world
scale problems. Now that the fossil fuel dynasty has started to wane it is time to look
again at options made available through organic processes. It is time for industry and
government alike to re-engage with the agricultural sector to jointly develop sustainable
and competitive advantages that will be the envy of Europe.

Renewable Energy should not be seen as the solution to all of the industry’s problems,
but there are opportunities emerging for some. Crucially, as farmers will have the choice to
produce for the food or emerging non-food markets, competition for the land must ensure
that local farmers are rewarded for the vital contribution they already make to society.

                                                      Renewables Open Day

The C a r b o n T r u s t
Donna McBride, Events Co-ordinator and Administrator, Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is an independent company funded by Government whose role is to
help the United Kingdom (UK) move to a low carbon economy by helping business and the
public sector reduce carbon emissions and capture the commercial opportunities of low
carbon technologies. The majority of Carbon Trust services are provided free of charge.

In the past four years the Carbon Trust has delivered over 1,200 technical surveys to
Northern Ireland businesses and organisations, identifying annual savings in excess of
£88 million and 700 ktCO2. These technical surveys are complemented by an annual
programme of skill and knowledge transfer seminars. The variety of seminar topics and
quality of speakers has historically been well received with over 1,000 delegates attending

While energy costs in farming and horticultural businesses may represent a relatively small
percentage of turnover, reducing energy costs can still directly increase profits and improve
competitiveness. In fact, for farm businesses a 20% cut in energy costs can represent
the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales. This is supported by a Northern
Ireland agricultural sector energy efficiency benchmarking study carried out by the Carbon
Trust in 2007, in conjunction with CAFRE, which identified annual savings of £5.7 million
and 34.5 ktCO2. With an estimated implementation cost of £17.5 million these savings
represent a compelling case of ‘invest to save’ with a simple payback of just over three

Following on from this study, and to assist farmers to analyse their own energy use
and identify areas where energy efficiency savings can be made, CAFRE are currently
developing an energy efficiency training programme for farmers and horticulturalists.

Tax breaks are available to encourage proactive implementation of both energy efficiency
and renewable technology projects. Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs) enable
businesses to buy energy efficient equipment using a 100% rate of tax allowance in the
year of purchase. Businesses may then claim this allowance on the investment value of
energy efficient equipment; providing the equipment is listed on the Energy Technology

Additionally there are opportunities for food and drink manufacturers to reduce their waste
costs through Insource Energy; a new business which is part of Carbon Trust Enterprises.
Insource provide tailored, on-site solutions through the provision of various technologies,
such as biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion coupled with combined heat and power
(CHP) units. Insource Energy can finance, develop, build, own and operate energy and
waste systems, and since they are not linked to any technology provider, they provide an
independent service that utilises the best available technology and the best suppliers to
meet customers’ specific requirements.

For further information on any of the above please visit:
or call the Carbon Trust on 0800 085 2005.

                                                      Renewables Open Day

Action Renewables … The Future of Energy, Today
Julie Casson, Marketing and PR Officer, Action Renewables

Action Renewables are recognised in Northern Ireland as the leading authority on
renewable and sustainable energy. In line with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and
Investment’s (DETI) stated sustainable energy objectives, Action Renewables is working:
•    to create the conditions necessary to facilitate the increased penetration of renewable
     energy in Northern Ireland;
•    to provide a sustainable solution to our future energy needs:
•    to bring enhanced fuel security, to safeguard future energy costs; and
•    to help combat the impending threat from climate change.

The services provided by the organisation include a newly revised education programme
which includes post-primary schools in addition to the primary schools previously covered.
We undertake enhanced research programmes to identify the positioning of renewable
energy within Northern Ireland and are the lead partner in the Renewable Energy Installer
Academy (REIA) which aims to train installers in Northern Ireland to the highest possible

The Action Renewables Community Support Officer is available to provide a handholding
service for farmers, community groups, not-for-profit organisations, schools and SMEs
to assist them in identifying methods by which they can reduce their energy bills through
utilising energy efficient measures and installing renewable energy technologies. Our
Community Support Officer will also work closely with these groups to help identify
possible funding streams. If you are interested in a talk or visit from our Community
Support Officer please contact Leanne on 02890737868 or by emailing

Action Renewables manage the Reconnect programme, the Department of Enterprise,
Trade and Investment’s renewable energy grant programme for householders in Northern
Ireland which has funding of £8 million available over a 2 year period. Reconnect has
been a great success with over £5 million already committed to over 1,700 householders
throughout Northern Ireland. If you are interested in installing a renewable energy system
in your home then please freephone Reconnect on 0800 023 4077, log onto www.
reconnect.org.uk or email info@reconnect.org.uk

Andy Ha y, RSPB i m ag es
                                                      Renewables Open Day

The Impacts of Renewable Energy Crops on Biodiversity
Giles Knight and Dr James Robinson, Conservation Manager, RSPB

The RSPB believes bioenergy has the potential to make a real contribution to reducing
greenhouse gas emissions as one of a number of renewable energy sources and as part of
a wider strategy that prioritises energy efficiency and demand management.

Bioenergy is energy derived from biomass, including conventional arable crops, tropical
commodity crops, dedicated energy crops such as short rotation willow coppice and
Miscanthus (‘elephant grass’), forestry products, and organic waste. This energy can
be in the form of electricity, heat and liquid fuels for vehicles – known as biodiesel and
bioethanol, which are used in the place of petrol and diesel respectively and collectively
referred to as biofuels. Other renewable products, such as lubrication oils, can be derived
from oil seed crops.

Because they are derived from either waste products or biological material that is then re-
grown, bioenergy crops are theoretically ‘carbon neutral’. However, the energy used during
the production and transport of these crops can substantially reduce the amount of carbon
actually saved. In Northern Ireland, we must ensure that we do not fall into this trap and
that greenhouse gas savings are maximised from bioenergy to secure the future for this

Production of renewables will require considerable changes in land-use, both in the EU
and overseas where fuels or feedstock for converting into energy may be sourced for
import. While on the one hand this presents opportunities for wildlife, through, for example,
bringing important habitats such as woodlands and reedbeds into management, there
are serious risks. For example, although the introduction of oilseed rape energy crops into
pastoral areas of Northern Ireland may help prevent further declines of seed-eating birds,
the planting of short rotation coppice in sensitive areas would reduce nesting habitat for
ground-nesting birds like the lapwing and skylark and should be avoided.

These changes in land-use must therefore be carefully managed to make sure that
bioenergy is sustainable in Northern Ireland.

To secure the sustainable development of our agricultural renewables industry, the RSPB is
calling for:
-    the sensitive development of the renewables industry to avoid adverse impacts
     on wildlife through, for example, poor siting of developments and unsustainable
-    the introduction of certification for renewable crops to ensure minimum environmental
     standards are met and greenhouse gas savings are delivered.

With these safeguards, policies to promote bioenergy should help to deliver greenhouse
gas savings without further damaging our natural heritage.

The RSPB seminar on environmental impacts

The RSPB’s overall objective is for bioenergy to contribute to climate change mitigation at
an appropriate and sustainable level without having significant negative impacts on wildlife
and the wider environment. We are also keen to see development of other renewable
crops, for example, oilseeds for lubrication oils, benefiting wildlife in Northern Ireland. At
this seminar, we will identify some of the pros and cons of renewable crops for wildlife
and outline how we think the development of this exciting industry in Northern Ireland can
produce profitable renewable crops that do not damage wildlife and their habitats.
                                                       Renewables Open Day

De v e l o p m e n t o f A F B I Res earch Strateg y f o r Renewab le
Ene r g y a t H i l l s b o r o u gh
Lindsay Easson, Enviroment and Renewable Energy Centre, Hillsborough


With the initiation of the Environment and Renewable Energy Centre (EREC) at AFBI
Hillsborough, funded from 2006 to 2008 through the Environment and Renewable Energy
Fund (EREF), AFBI is committed to developing a programme of research into aspects of
renewable energy relevant to the agricultural industry in Northern Ireland. A number of
research programme areas for the EREC were identified including;
•    Bio-remediation for farm dirty water through Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) willows,
     other biomass crops and forest areas, and its interaction with genotype and
     environmental factors;
•    The effects of various input and control factors on the performance of a mesophilic
     on-farm anaerobic digester;
•    Effects of harvesting method on the drying, storage and heat production of willow
•    A comparison of methods for drying harvested willow biomass at least cost;
•    An investigation of the performance of different biomass fuels under controlled
     conditions, including willow biomass, forestry trimmings, miscanthus, cereal grains
     and waste timber;
•    The performance of solar panels when used to heat water used to flush dairy parlour
•    Full lifecycle evaluation of the carbon savings from the growing and utilization for fuel
     of energy crops, and of anaerobic digestion of animal manures and other digestible
     farm materials;
•    Evaluation of the performance of equipment used for the production of heat and
     electricity from renewable sources, including biomass boilers, combined heat and
     power units.

Developing an AFBI-wide programme

While the AFBI - EREC is being developed at the AFBI Hillsborough site, it is recognised
that there is a wide range of expertise within AFBI in scientific disciplines which could have
a valuable input into this area. For many years Loughgall has been in the forefront of the
European research programme into SRC willows and factors such as bioremediation,
nutrient management, environmental impact and economics. AFBI staff in a wide range
of disciplines have relevant expertise that can be drawn on to advance the knowledge
and information required by local industry to this new and increasingly important area of
agricultural development.

The following picture shows the proposed Environment and Renewable Energy Centre
development at AFBI Hillsborough.

The construction of the woodchip drying research facilities and the anaerobic digestion
plant are currently underway at Hillsborough. Energy crops have been planted and
scientific monitoring programmes have been developed to gather information from these.
The full research strategy is developed in conjunction with DARD Policy Division, with the
remaining aspects of the Environment and Renewable Energy Centre due for completion
before the end of March 2008.

                                                      Renewables Open Day

Northern Ireland Land Based Renewable Energy Supply Chain
- Pipe Dream or Opportunity Knocking?
Jim Crummie, Senior Supply Chain Development Adviser, DARD

Changing the mindset.

Common Agriculture Policy reform has radically altered the economics of agricultural
production. Decoupling of support for traditional production agriculture has opened up
the scope for both individual farms and groups of farms to be more flexible in what they
produce. Climate change and global warming are also very high in the consciousness
of farmers and the general public. A whole new set of political, social and market drivers
will shape the future market for land based renewable energy crops. Awareness events
such as the “Renewables Open Day” at Loughry Campus will stimulate many farmers to
consider the production of renewable energy crops on their farm. It will also prompt them
to ask “how can I alone or with others add value and develop a sustainable business
opportunity within the emerging energy-from-land based renewables sector?”

Making the pipe dream a reality - working together.

Local farmers have seen the food industry and other supply chains in which they operate
become extremely competitive. Rationalisation and consolidation in other parts of the
chain have left farmers and growers either supplying or being supplied with goods and
services by a declining number of powerful companies.

Northern Ireland farmers wishing to develop a profitable and sustainable energy
generation and supply or service business opportunity will want to be an integral part of
an efficient, effective and stable supply chain within the competitive energy market. The
immediate challenge for farmers is to fully understand the land-based renewable energy
crop opportunities and the emerging markets for heat and power from these crops.
Opportunities exist for biomass production, biodiesel, woodchip and pellet manufacture
in addition to energy supply, distribution and marketing from farm waste, wind and water
sources. Farmers and growers need to consider whether renewable crops are economical,
what the opportunities to supply or service the wider Northern Ireland energy market
are, what renewable energy systems and technologies are available and how they can
overcome barriers to entering the market.

Making the pipe dream a reality-Supply Chain Development Programme.

The Supply Chain Development Programme is designed to provide support for
farmers and growers who want to examine how they and potential partners can work
collaboratively to improve rewards from their supply chains. The land based renewable
energy sector represents an emerging major, complex and new opportunity. Successful
entry to this market presents challenge which will require farmers and growers not only
to develop understanding of new market needs but also to establish relationships with a
whole new group of supply chain partners.

The Supply Chain Development Programme can provide facilitation and funding for
farmers wanting to refine their land based renewable energy business idea, conduct
an economic appraisal and potentially identify sources of funding to assist with the

development and implementation of their land based renewable energy crop project.
Participation in the programme can assist the development of supply chain structures that
will encourage increased levels of collaboration between farmers and customers in the
land based renewable energy sector and perhaps change a renewable energy pipe dream
idea to reality.

Farmers wanting more information on the issues raised in this article should
Jim Crummie on 028 9052 4605 or e-mail jim.crummie@dardni.gov.uk
To find out more about the Supply Chain Development Programme contact
Sean McIntyre on 028 9076 5302 or e-mail sean.mcintyre@dardni.gov.uk
                                                       Renewables Open Day

The Role of the National Non Food Crops Centre (NNFCC)

Building Supply Chains for Sustainable Raw Materials
•    The UK’s single independent authority on renewable materials and technology
•    Helping get products to market by building and strengthening supply chains
•    Supporting decision makers with comprehensive information resources from all

Since 2003, our distinct perspective and expertise has secured us a key role in the
development of supply chains for renewable materials in priority sectors;
•    Plant-derived Pharmaceuticals
•    Biofuels
•    Biorefineries
•    Biolubricants
•    Renewable Polymers
•    Speciality and Fine Chemicals
•    Crop-derived Construction Material

Our Services

•    Facilitating Thematic Working Groups in the priority sectors which bring together
     scientists, producers and industry to develop strategies for renewable supply chains

•    Active dialogue with Sponsors and Subscribers providing an insight of industry
     concerns which we relay to the relevant parts of Government

•    Promotion of non-food crops, products and technologies at conferences,
     agricultural/trade shows and public events

•    Our Helpdesk, Newsletters and E-mailings keep stakeholders up to date

•    Online data and information: a 24 hour business resource

•    Conferences, workshops and seminars at the specialist level

Announcing the launch of new NNFCC studies

During the past year we have recruited a Communications Team to produce a new range
of newsletters and publications related to non-food crops and technologies, available on-
line at www.nnfcc.co.uk

New NNFCC Position Papers

Position Papers form our overview of current topics in renewable materials;

•    ‘Biorefineries: Definitions, examples of current activities and suggestions for UK
     development’ (January 2007)
•    ‘The Potential for Renewable Aviation Fuels’ (February 2007)

Non-food crop area statistics

We have updated the 2006 UK non-food crop statistics section of our website at www.
nnfcc.co.uk. A further increase has been noted in the area of oilseed rape grown in the UK
for non-food and energy uses. Figures from the RPA and Defra show an increase from
about 160,000 ha in 2005 to over 250,000 ha in 2006. Wheat is featuring in statistics
under the Energy Aid Payment Scheme with about 4,000 ha being reported as grown for
non-food uses.

Green Supply Chain 2007, our annual conference

We are pleased to announce that our next annual conference The Green Supply
Chain 2007 will be held in York on 1-2 November 2007.

Governance and Funding

By focusing on the whole supply chain for renewable materials we bring together players in
all the key sectors;
•    Industry: Technology translation to stimulate uptake, marketability, commercialisation
     and use.
•    Agriculture: Advising and supporting farmers and contractors on cultivation,
     markets and adding value.
•    Government: Administering public R&D funds; advising funding bodies on research
     needs; furthering the Government’s objectives for sustainable development and One
     Planet Living in the area of non-food crops.
•    Academia: Disseminating research and supporting innovation based on bioscience,
     chemistry and engineering.
•    The Public: Raising the profile of crop-derived products in everyday life.

NNFCC is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. Our board members represent
industry, academia, agriculture and government. We are sponsored by government
through Defra and Bioscience for Business. We have an extensive Subscriber base of
organisations and individuals. Consultancy and R&D management contracts complete our
funding profile. A Sponsor Group supplements our in-house knowledge of commercial

The National Non-Food Crops Centre
Biocentre, York Science Park,
Innovation Way, Heslington
York YO10 5DG, UK

Tel: 01904 435182 • enquiries@nnfcc.co.uk • www.nnfcc.co.uk

                                                         Renewables Open Day

Ene r g y E f f i c i e n c y
Niall Donaghy, CAFRE

CAFRE in partnership with the Carbon Trust undertook a study to determine energy
consumption within production agriculture and horticulture. The aim of the study was firstly
to determine current usage within different sectors, then set best-in-class benchmarks
and finally to set out the main areas where energy efficiency technology could be profitably

The Northern Ireland agriculture production sector consumes approximately 780 GWh of
energy per year, costing a total of £36 million.

This comprises:

                                 Purchased Energy                       Cost
                           MWh/year            %          £ 000s / Year           %
   Grid Electricity           253,715        32.5%             21,940            60.5%
       Fuel Oil               452,240        58.0%             11,724            32.9%
        LPG                   74,142          9.5%             2,605             7.2%
   Total Energy               780,097                          36,269

The following table outlines typical energy use and best-in-class benchmarks within each
of the sectors.

                                          Typical Energy use     Best Practice energy use
                                                (kWhr)                    (kWhr)
         Cereals (per tonne)                     338                       218
        Potatoes (per tonne)                     194                       130
             Pigs (per pig)                         36                     16
      Poultry meat (per 100kg)                      66                     29
       Poultry eggs (per case)                    4.8                      3.0
           Dairy (per cow)                      1550                      1210
       Mushrooms (per tonne)                    3945                      2821
      Horticulture (per metre2)                  317                       170
         Apples (per tonne)                      102                       61

Currently the cost of a unit (1kWhr) of electricity is approximately 11 pence. This shows
the scope for improvement across all sectors by introducing energy efficiency measures.

On each individual farm, different measures will be required, but every farm will have some
areas where money can be saved.

Energy Efficiency Technology

Figures derived from the Farm Energy Centre indicate that in most circumstances energy
costs to a farm business can be reduced by at least 10% and often by as much as 20%
by simple actions that produce quick returns. Energy is a controllable cost that offers
scope for reduction.

A 20% cut in energy costs represents the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales.

Assessment of energy efficiency in any business follows a logical sequence:
1.   Commitment – establish the facts; identify the specific current energy use within the
2.   Compare – benchmark your consumption with similar businesses to set targets.
3.   Plan – set out ways to make the business more efficient. Check that you are not
     paying your supplier too much for the energy you use.
4.   Use less energy – find the obvious waste and identify where investment is needed.
5.   Control and monitor – constant review and feedback.

Investment often is the most obvious outcome from the audit. However, new plant will only
contribute optimum efficiency to the business when accompanied by all the steps in the
process and commitment to efficiencies by all personnel involved.

Potential Energy Saving Actions

                    Adopting a high efficiency milk cooling system, including a well
                    configured plate cooler can result in a 20% energy saving.
 Dairying           Maximize use of cheap overnight tariffs.
                    Use of high efficiency lighting and water heating measures(insulation,
                    control) can result in a 20% energy saving.
                    Allocating machines to the most appropriate task is the best way of
 Cereal             achieving efficient fuel use.
 production          – draw up a schedule of tasks listing the most appropriate tractor
                    and equipment combinations.
                    Ballast levels and the correct tyre pressure ensure that draught
 Potato             operations are carried out effectively.
 production         Ballast should be removed and tyre pressure readjusted when the
                    tractor is not being used for draught work.

                                                       Renewables Open Day

                    Buildings should be insulated with a minimum of 75mm extruded
                    polystyrene or equivalent.
 Pig Production
                    Thermostatic heating controls on a 20 place farrowing room can save
                    up to £725 per year.

 Poultry meat
                    Heating and ventilating a building at the same time wastes energy.
 and egg
                    Over-ventilating a building in winter dramatically increases heating cost.
                    Poorly set up and maintained boilers and heaters can increase energy
                    heating costs by 10%
                    Inaccurate temperature controls lead to higher heating costs. A 1°C
                    error in the control temperature can increase heating costs by 7.5%.
                    Reducing air leakage in a greenhouse can lower heating costs by up
                    to 25%.
                    Regularly check panes and ensure that doors and ventilation are
                    closed properly.
                    Stores should be loaded/unloaded in such a way that good airflow is
                    achieved around and through the crop.
                    Frequent traffic in and out of the store can significantly increase
                    energy use through warm air ingress through the open doors.

To be effective, energy management must be a continuous process of control and
improvement. Recording and monitoring systems are essential to check that targets are
being met and identify further viable cost reduction opportunities.


CAFRE is currently further developing energy efficiency benchmarking and will offer training
programmes across production agriculture and horticulture to assist farm businesses to
become more energy efficient.

For further information please contact: Niall Donaghy
Tel    028 8676 8271            e-mail: niall.donaghy@dardni.gov.uk

                                                       Renewables Open Day

Biom a s s R e s e a r c h & Dev el o p ment at A g ri- f o o d &
Bios c i e n c e s I n s t i t u t e , L o u g hg all
Alistair R. McCracken, Applied Plant Science Division, AFBI

Work on Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) willow (Salix spp.) has been on-going at the
Northern Ireland Horticulture and Plant Breeding Station (NIHPBS) Loughgall (formerly
Science Service DARD: now Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute) since the mid 1970s.

Genotype selection: There are two willow-
breeding programmes in Europe – the
Swedish Breeding Programme (Svalöf Weibull
AB, Sweden) and the European Breeding
Programme (Rothamsted Research, England).
As part of the process, new genotypes are
grown at NIHPBS to ensure that the best
genotypes for growing in temperate, maritime
climates are selected. Recently there has been
an exchange of cutting material with the USA
breeding programme at the State University of
New York (SUNY), Syracuse.

Disease Control: An outbreak of rust disease
                                   epitea) in the mid 1980s severely affected many of the
                                   Salix spp. genotypes being grown at that time. Careful
                                   selection of new resistant genotypes has significantly
                                   reduced the impact of the disease. However, early
                                   work had demonstrated that the resistance of previously
                                   resistant genotypes can break down when exposed to
                                   severe disease pressure. In order to reduce this disease
                                   pressure a system of growing Salix spp.
                                   genotype mixtures was developed. Research
                                   demonstrated that by growing mixtures,
                                   the onset of the rust could be delayed, the
                                   build up slowed down and the final disease
                                   levels significantly reduced. Furthermore,
                                   resistant genotypes were less likely to
                                   become susceptible to rust so ensuring
the sustainability of the plantation. Current commercial practice therefore,
is to plant mixtures of at least seven genotypes which include three or more
genotypes from either the Swedish or European breeding programmes.
Research and development continues investigating the interactions within
mixtures so as to determine the optimum planting design and configuration.

Harvesting: Two approaches exist for harvesting SRC willow:

(i) Harvest and chip. Using this method the chip produced has approximately 50%
moisture content. At this level of moisture the chip needs to be artificially dried, to < 20%,

almost immediately in order to prevent composting
and development of potentially dangerous moulds.
Drying requires a significant energy and economic
input and work at AFBI is currently investigating the
most efficient ways of achieving sufficient drying of
fresh chip.

(ii) The second method of harvesting is whole rod
harvesting, which are then piled at the side of the
field where they will dry naturally to < 30%. Dried
rods can then be chipped and used as required.
Selection of drying method will depend on the
particular circumstances, end use, storage facilities
etc. Harvesting is normally carried out in a three-year
harvest-cycle. Trials are being conducted to assess the practicalities of moving to a two-
year cycle. While there may be yield penalties, these could be balanced by other benefits
including the ease of harvesting.

Bioremediation: Willow is fast growing and takes up large quantities of water and
nutrients. SRC willow therefore has the potential for the bioremediation (biofiltration)
of effluents and sludges. Several trials are being conducted to measure the response
of willow to effluent from municipal water treatment works. In addition to measuring
plant growth the fate of the nitrogen, phosphorous, minerals and heavy metals is being
monitored in soil, soil water and ground water. A new trial at AFBI, Hillsborough will be
                                          irrigated with farm wastewater. Sewage sludge
                                          can also be applied to willow during the first
                                          year of regrowth. As the sludge is injected into
                                          the soil there are no odour, health or run-off
                                          problems. The soil micro-flora breaks down the
                                          sludge slowly releasing the nutrients gradually for
                                          uptake by the plant roots. Before application of
                                          effluents or sludges it is essential to have a full soil
                                          analysis carried out, paying particular attention to
                                          the phosphorous level. SRC willow can only be
                                          used for bioremediation with permission of the
                                          Environment and Heritage Service, NI. Elsewhere
                                          SRC willow is being used for the phytoremediation
                                          of heavily contaminated brown-field sites.


SRC willow offers significant opportunities for farm diversification. Planting grants are
offered and business opportunities are available. However, care and planning must be
taken before planting large areas of SRC willow. The crop will potentially be in the ground
for 20 plus years. Early in the process consideration must be given to identifying end
users and in establishing supply chains.

Applied Plant Science Division, Northern Ireland Horticulture & Plant Breeding
Station, AFBI, Loughgall, Co. Armagh BT61 8JB alistair.mccracken@afbini.gov.uk

                                                        Renewables Open Day

S us t a i n a b l e C r o p P r o d u cti o n – Eco no mics and the
Env i r o n m e n t
Stephen Bell, Crop Technologist, Greenmount Campus, CAFRE

Winter oilseed rape and wheat represent annual crops currently grown in arable rotations
which can be redirected to energy markets providing biodiesel for road transportation or
biomass for combustion.

Understanding the energy balance for growing crops (that is, the amount of energy
produced from a given energy input) is important for sustainability. The energy ratio
takes into account the energy involved in direct agricultural activities such as cultivation
and harvesting as well as energy spent on indirect activities at the industrial level in
manufacturing fertiliser and agrochemicals. This principle involves adopting agronomic
practises to maximise the net energy yield (GJ/ha) rather than maximising yield (t/ha). In
reality, crop yield is key to profitability and a balance between economic and environmental
sustainability must be reached - renewable technologies will not be adopted on the
strength of one alone.

The energy ratio for growing winter varieties of oilseed rape and wheat is positive and
similar for both crops at 10:1. However, there are marked differences in the economics of

The average winter oilseed rape yield in Northern Ireland is 3t/ha and with prices at £160,
3.6t/ha are required to break even. If yields were increased to 4t/ha a profit of 59t/ha
could be achieved but this is well below the return from an average crop of winter wheat.

How can crop production be more energy efficient?

Fertiliser (nitrogen) and cultivations (diesel) are significant costs in crop production in
terms of energy and associated cost. Reducing the amount of artificial nitrogen required
by utilising organic manures or improving the efficiency of nitrogen use through better
timing will significantly affect the energy and profitability balance, that is improving energy
efficiency will help reduce production costs.

Total energy output (GJ/ha) for winter oilseed rape and wheat.

                             Yield (t/ha)     Calorific value (MJ/kg) Energy output (GJ/ha)

          Oil                   0.90                 39.42                   35.48
         Cake                   2.10                 27.06                   56.83
        Straw                   2.00                 19.19                   38.38

        Wheat                   8.50                 17.0                  144.50
        Straw                   3.50                 15.2                    53.20
     Total output                                                          197.70

Yield of 3t/ha of rape seed at 30% oil = 0.9t/ha. Average rape straw yield of 2t/ha.

John Deere has shown that adoption of minimum tillage regimes for oilseed rape
establishment could save up to 75% energy, that is, 100 MJ/ha. Minimum tillage could
benefit rape crops by ensuring rapid sowing after cereals and increase soil moisture
retention which is critical to allow small seeds to germinate. The savings from minimum
tillage will be most beneficial where appropriate cultivation equipment is used at the right
time and good grass weed control is maintained in the rotation.

Winter oilseed rape is the main oilseed crop grown in Northern Ireland and the area grown
has increased by 300% from 119 ha in 2003 to 471 ha in 2006. However, oilseed rape
is not a profitable cash crop. Obtaining average yields of 3t/ha and selling the seed as
a commodity at £160/t is not economically viable. Oilseed rape does have a value in
arable rotations as a break crop reducing the build up of take-all which can reduce the
yield potential in continuous wheat crops. The deep rooting systems will help improve soil
structure and the crop will leave residual soil nitrogen reserves helping to improve yield in
the following crop.

What are the opportunities to add value to the oilseed rape crop?

Rape seed can be mechanically cold pressed using a conventional screw press to
produce oil and cake. One hectare of oilseed rape will produce on average 3 tonnes of
seed at 40% oil. When pressed, 30% of the oil is extracted yielding 0.9t/ha oil (1067litres)
and 2.1t/ha of cake.

Rape seed oil is versatile and can be used to produce added value products including
renewable fuels (biodiesel), biolubricating oils for industry and high quality oils for catering
and culinary markets. The protein rich, energy dense (27MJ/kg dry matter) rape seed cake
and meal is in increasing demand from the animal feed industry.

Renewable fuel for road transport – biodiesel

Transport accounts for a quarter of the UK domestic energy use and carbon emissions.
The majority of UK transport greenhouse gas emissions are as CO2, 93% of which is
attributable to road vehicles.

The energy available from biofuel is 2.2 - 4.4 times the energy required to produce it
resulting in savings of up to 97% in energy inputs, 57% in total greenhouse gases and
94% net saving in CO2 production when compared to ultra-low mineral diesel.

While the savings are high when compared to mineral diesel, the energy ratio is low when
compared to bioethanol from sugar beet or wheat. However, bioethanol requires major
industrial investment, whereas biodiesel can be produced on-farm for own use.

Overall the energy balance from producing liquid fuels from annual crops is lower than
solid biomass for burning due to the higher yield potential of the biomass crops, which are
perennial and have low inputs.

                                                       Renewables Open Day

Oil yield from cold pressing oilseed rape is low (30%) when compared to industrial hot
pressing using solvents (68%). One hectare of cold pressed rape seed will yield 1067 litres
of biodiesel equivalent to 11,270 miles/ha compared to 1,476 litres or 15,590 miles/ha at
48mpg from hot pressing, an extra 4,320 miles.

Total value of output from 3t/ha crop of oilseed rape for the biodiesel market

                             Yield/ha                £/unit                 £/ha

                              1,067 l                0.85/l                  907
    (cold pressed)

  Rape seed cake               2.10t                 105/t                   220

Total value of output                                                      1,127

In the short term it is relatively straight forward to produce biodiesel from oilseed rape
which can be utilised immediately to meet government renewable targets; however is their
production maximising the potential value of oilseed rape or a sustainable, competitive
alternative use for land in Northern Ireland at present?

                                                         Renewables Open Day

Indu s t r i a l C r o p s

Oilseed Crops

Industrial oils provide the opportunity to add value to oil crops
•    Biolubricating oils such as chain saw oil from rapeseed
•    Drying oils for paints and varnishes from linseed
•    Plastics from crambe

Fibre Crops - Hemp
•    In 2007, 117 hectares of hemp are being grown under contract in the Limavady and
     Coleraine area for Fibre Solutions Northern
•    Hemp fibre is versatile and can be used
     to make a range of renewable raw
     materials for the construction, insulation
     and automotive industries. It is estimated
     that each kilogram of natural fibre that
     substitutes glass fibre in composites and
     insulation saves 1.4kg of CO2.
•    CAFRE are conducting on-farm projects
     with the hemp fibre grower group and are
     investigating the effects of seed rate and
     variety on fibre yield.
•    Preliminary results show that late maturing varieties such as Futura 75 produce the
     highest yields when planted at a seed rate of 35-37kg/ha. In Year 1, fibre yields of
     7-10t/ha at 15% moisture content were achieved with an average price of £125/t.


Nutraceutical crops produce seeds and oils which have specialised nutritional and
pharmaceutical properties. At Loughry Campus, the agronomy and economics of a range
of nutraceutical crops including oilseed rape, hemp, linseed, camelina, echium, borage
and calendula are under investigation.
The inclusion of these seeds and oils in functional food products will be further evaluated
for their local market potential by the Innovation Team of the Food Technology Branch,
Loughry Campus.
The oil produced from many of these crops is rich in the omega series of essential fatty
acids which cannot be made by the human body and must be obtained from the diet.
They are a plant source of essential fatty acids usually found only in oily fish or cod liver oil.

Compared to olive oil, cold pressed extra virgin rape oil contains:
•       Less then half the saturated fat;
•       Almost 10 times the amount of omega-3 essential fatty acids;
•       Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to play an important role in reducing heart disease
        by reducing the risk of blood clots, protecting against irregular heart beats and having
        a beneficial effect on blood pressure;
•       Cold-pressed rapeseed oil can be used in place of imported olive oil and is well
        suited to making dressings, for roasting and stir frying.

    Fatty acid g/100g oil       Oilseed rape oil          Olive oil           Sunflower oil

         Saturated fat               6.6                  14.2                   12.0

     Monounsaturated fat            57.8                  72.6                   20.3

      Polyunsaturated fat           29.3                    8.3                  63.3

    Linoleic acid (omega-6)         19.7                    7.5                  63.2

    Linolenic acid (omega-3)         9.6                    0.7                   0.1

•       Innovative oilseed rape breeding programmes are striving to produce even healthier
        oils targeting the fast food and crisp markets;
•       Novel varieties produce oils low in saturated fat yet offer increased stability when
        heated. The oil does not become hydrogenated which results in the production of
        harmful trans-fatty acids;
•       The levels of trans-fatty acids in food are under scrutiny by many food processors
        and health authorities are striving to remove them;
•       Replacing 50% of traditional frying oils with oils from new high oleic, low linoleic
        varieties can reduce saturated fat intake by 5-6%, equivalent of reducing the
        saturated fat content of a typical portion of chips from 7.4g to 0.6g and crisps from
        5.5g to<0.5g resulting in more healthy food;
•       1 hectare of winter oilseed rape yielding 3t/ha containing 30% oil will produce on
        average 1067 litres of oil equivalent to 2134, 500 ml bottles of cold-pressed rape
        seed oil. Cold pressed rapeseed oil retails for £11/litre equivalent to £11737/ha.

Other nutraceutical crops

Hemp and linseed are examples of crops where the seeds and oil can be marketed for
their nutraceutical properties. Like rapeseed oil they are a rich source of omega fatty

                                                        Renewables Open Day

The hemp variety Finola produces more seed compared to any other hemp variety, it is
spring sown and relatively short (1.5m) allowing for harvest with a conventional combine
•     Hemp seed oil is typically over 90% unsaturated fat and is especially rich source of
      omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in
      hemp oil is usually between 2:1 and 3:1 which is considered to be optimal for human
      health and nutrition.
•     Hemp oil has skin healing properties and is often included in skin care products.
•     Hemp seeds are readily available from health food shops marketed either as the
      whole seed or shelled to remove the outer husk. The oil can be found on many
      supermarket shelves as virgin oil or incorporated in salad dressings.

The crop will yield between 1-1.5t of seed (£350/t conventional, £600/t organic) yielding
30% oil and 1.5t of fibre (£70/t) per hectare.

The profitability of growing hemp seed to sell on the commodity market is marginal with a
yield of 1.16t/ha required to breakeven. The opportunities for organic production are more
attractive, where a gross margin of up to £550/ha is achievable.

Similarly linseed often marketed as flax seed can be bought as whole seeds or milled for
sprinkling on breakfast cereals. The oil is usually bottled in the pure form and taken as a
dietary supplement as per cod liver oil.

                              Yield/ha                £/unit                 £/ha

        Linseed                 1.9t                   130/t                 247

         Seeds                  1.9t                  4,200/t               7,900

    Linseed ‘Flax oil’        680 litre               22.00                 14,960

•     Renewable crops – Look beyond the farm gate
•     Opportunities for innovation and diversification in agriculture
•     Potential to add value to raw materials and shift from commodity selling
•     Local processing, branding and marketing are key to adding value
•     Potential for small farmer group co-operation
•     Adding value and improving profitability can be maximized by utilizing crop by
      products thus reducing waste and improving efficiency

                                                       Renewables Open Day

Ren e wa b l e W i n d E n e rg y – Freq uently A s ked Ques tio ns
Jonathan Buick, Programme Manager, Action Renewables

Are wind turbines noisy?

Wind turbines are not noisy. You can stand underneath a turbine and hold a conversation
without having to raise your voice. As wind speed rises, the noise of the wind masks the
noise made by wind turbines.

How long do wind turbines last?

A wind turbine typically lasts around 20-25 years. During this time, as with a car, some
parts may need replacing. Also, as with a car, a wind turbine should be insured and
regularly maintained over its lifetime not just during the warranty period.

If I have a small turbine what can I do with surplus electricity?

We do not have a system of “net metering” where your export would match the power
you draw from the system at times of low output. However, if you are producing more
electricity than you need, say during the night, this can be sold to NIE (as Purchaser of
Last Resort). Extra metering equipment is needed to record the amounts of electricity

How much electricity does a wind turbine produce?

A 50kW wind turbine at a site with an average wind speed of 7m/s will have an annual
output of 200,000kWhr. Small wind turbines can produce enough electricity for a
household or farm, depending on the site. A typical turbine for a single household would
be 2.5kW which could produce up to 8,000 kWh of electricity per year. A good estimate
would suggest that the household would use 50% of this electricity with the remainder
being spilled onto the grid, unless the electricity demand of the household was constant.

Do wind turbines frighten livestock?

Wind farming is popular with farmers, because their land can continue to be used for
growing crops or grazing livestock. Sheep, cows and horses are not disturbed by wind
turbines. Approximately 1% of the land of a wind farm is taken up by the turbines, access
tracks and facilities.

How long does it take for a turbine to “pay back” the cost of installing it?

Like most renewable energy technologies, the payback period for wind turbines depends
on how well the technology is used. It is important that during periods of good wind
resource (in excess of 6 metres per second), the electricity demand matches the output.
This can mean, for example, that the electricity demand should remain high throughout
the night. Alternatively, excess electricity produced may be spilled onto the grid for which
NIE will currently pay up to 4.5p per unit (a number of tariffs are available). With a number
of grants available, a reasonable payback period for a 6kW wind turbine would range from

10 to 16 years. Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) payable at £32.69 per MWhr
generated will further reduce the payback of the turbine.

How much does a wind turbine cost?

The size of the turbine will determine the cost. As an example, a 1.3MW wind turbine
would cost in excess of one million pounds. What many people do not realise is that
wind turbines are readily available for the domestic market, with machines ranging from
2.5kW, 6kW, 10kW, 20kW and 50kW. Typically a standard home can use around 4,000
kilowatt hours of electricity per annum, a 2.5kW turbine can produce approximately 8,000
kilowatt hours with a wind speed of 7.0 metres per second. These machines are available
for around £12,000 for a grid connected turbine, depending on ground conditions, cable
lengths and connection requirements.

Are there grants available to help purchase a wind turbine?

Yes, Action Renewables can give up to date advice on grants such as the local
government scheme Reconnect provided by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and
Investment and managed by Action Renewables. The direct freephone number for Action
Renewables Renewable Energy Advisory Service is 0808 141 2020. The freephone
number to enquire about a Reconnect grant is 0800 023 4077. Alternatively, for
further information on grant assistance for wind please log onto the Renewable Energy
Association website www.r-p-a.org.uk and on the British Wind Energy Association website

What do I do if I think I have a site or I want more information?

Contact Action Renewables for free and impartial advice on renewable energy, including
wind power.

Contact details:
Action Renewables
Action Renewables Renewable
Energy Advisory Service
Tel   0808 141 2020

Action Renewables is supported by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
(DETI). It was created in response to European, National and Northern Ireland Government
commitment to renewable power as one strand of the policy to combat climate change,
environmental pollution and increased fuel diversity.

                                                        Renewables Open Day

Example - 20kW Wind Turbine
All electricity used on site replacing purchased power:
•    Own Use         30,000 x 11p                                       = £3,300.00
•    Renewable Obligation Certificates(ROC) @ £32.69 per MWh             =     £980.70
•    Total value per annum                                              = £4,280.70
Using 50% and selling 50% to power supplier over grid:
•    Own Use         15,000 x 11p                                       = £1,650.00
•    Power sold      15,000 x 4.5p per kWh                              =     £675.00
•    ROC @ £32.69 per MWh                                               =     £980.70
•    Total value per annum                                              = £3,305.70
Depends on:
•     Site Measurements
•     Efficiency of Technology
•     Output - 20kW produces around 30,000kWh per annum
•     Best financial option is a Sell and Buy Back for NIROCs
•     Location of property and availability of grid connection (costs will vary)
Let’s assume:
•     30,000kWh generated every year
•     An installation cost of £40,000 (- £8,000 grant)
•     Grid connection cost £500
•     75% of electricity consumed on site
•     An annual increase in electricity costs of 3.5%
•     A biannual service charge of £200
•     A working life of 25 years

With these assumptions the payback would be 7 years

                                                       Renewables Open Day

Wha t i s B i o m a s s ?
Nigel Moore Renewable Energy Technologist, CAFRE

The term biomass covers a wide range of fuels and technologies used to produce
renewable energy. Biomass covers crops grown specifically for energy, and many other
by-products and organic wastes which have arisen originally from photosynthetic activity.
These are non-fossil renewable forms of fuel such as wood, grasses, crops, agricultural
and municipal wastes which can be burned to provide heat and power. Liquid biofuels can
also be derived from biomass crops such as oilseed rape.

When plant material is burned for energy, carbon dioxide is released. However, as plants
absorb carbon dioxide during their life cycle, the net emissions of carbon dioxide are zero.
As a result, burning wood is regarded as carbon neutral.

Benefits of Biomass

There are many environmental, economic and social benefits of using biomass instead of
fossil fuels to produce our heat and electricity:
(i)    As energy production from biomass is regarded as carbon neutral, considerable
       savings can be made in greenhouse gas emissions which are believed to cause
       global warming;
(ii)   Biomass fuels are home produced, whereas fossil fuels are imported. Utilising locally
       produced biomass reduces our dependence on imports;

(iii)   Being an indigenous fuel supply removes the risk of political supply problems, giving
        greater security of supply;
(iv)    Development of the biomass industry offers opportunities in employment, especially
        in rural areas. Jobs will be created in a range of areas such as fuel supply, installation,
        engineering and maintenance;
(v)     Biomass is sustainable and renewable, avoiding the depletion of our natural
        resources. Energy crops offer a different environment to pasture land and can
        increase biodiversity;
(vi)    Useful bioenergy can be generated from resources that were previously regarded
        as wastes such as forestry thinnings and wood waste from sawmills. Crops such
        as SRC willow can be used for bioremediation of wastes prior to burning. Heat and
        electricity can be generated from agricultural and food wastes, while simultaneously
        dealing with waste disposal issue.

Biomass feedstocks

Sources of biomass are split into two main areas:
1.      energy crops
2.      organic residues.

Energy crops are grown for the primary purpose of being burned or converted into a
product which can be used as a fuel. They include:
•       trees for timber and their thinnings;
•       short rotation coppice
        (SRC) willow;
•       miscanthus –
        elephant grass;
•       cereals for burning;
•       oilseeds for biodiesel.

Organic residues such as
animal manures, spent
mushroom compost, wood
wastes and vegetable
wastes can be burned
to produce energy but
can also be used to fuel
anaerobic digestion (AD)
systems to produce biogas

                                                      Renewables Open Day

Table: Relative calorific values of fuels (Biomass Energy Centre)

                     Fuel                    Energy density by mass volume GJ/tonne

                Log Wood
          Stacked air dry 20%MC

                 Wood Chip

               Wood Pellets                                         18
                    Grain                                           16

                Miscanthus                                          17

            (lignite to anthracite)

                      Oil                                           42

                Natural gas                                         54

There is now a wide range of technologies and equipment with proven capability to
produce energy from biomass which will reduce the level of carbon released to the
atmosphere when energy is produced. However, it is important to carefully calculate the
costs and potential payback when considering your own particular situation.

Biomass Case Study
                                                                 Cost           Saving/yr
Large farmhouse using 5000 litres of oil/yr @35p               £1,750
In energy terms this is equivalent to
12.7 tonnes woodchip (20% MC @ £60/t)                              £ 762            £988
10.5 tonnes wood pellets @ £108/t                              £1,134               £616
11.5 tonnes wheat @ £130                                       £1,495               £255
                       @ £90                                   £1,035               £715

Environmental Benefit

In addition each of these biomass systems would result in a reduction of 10.2 tonnes of
CO2 compared to 28sec home heating oil.

However, biomass boilers are more expensive than conventional oil condensing boilers of
similar efficiency

Typical Boiler Costs (25kW)
High efficiency oil condensing boiler
(incl bunded tank, installation etc)                             £2,500
Wood pellet/Grain Boiler
(incl fuel store, buffer tank, flue, installation etc)
£7000 less Reconnect Grant of £3250                              £3,750
Woodchip Boiler
(incl fuel store, buffer tank, flue, installation etc)
£12000 less Reconnect Grant of £3250                             £8,750

If you were to remove an existing oil-fired boiler to take advantage of a cheaper form of
fuel, the following table shows, in simple terms, the length of time taken for the savings to
cover the cost of the new biomass boiler.

           Boiler type                       Fuel Cost/t              Payback (Years)

       Wood pellet boiler                        108                        6.5

   Willow chip boiler using
                                                  60                        8.8
        20% MC chip

          Grain boiler                           130                       15.7

          Grain boiler                            90                        5.6

If, however, your old boiler is due for replacement, or you are in a new-build situation, then
the fuel savings will pay off the difference in boiler cost in a shorter period of time.

           Boiler type                       Fuel Cost/t              Payback (Years)

       Wood pellet boiler                        108                        2.0

   Willow chip boiler using
                                                  60                        5.1
        20% MC chip

          Grain boiler                           130                        4.9

          Grain boiler                            90                        1.7

                                                        Renewables Open Day

Biomass Boiler at Loughry

CAFRE have recently installed a 150kW biomass boiler to supply heating and hot water to
Shannon Hall at Loughry Campus. This will be fuelled by locally sourced woodchip and it
is anticipated that the payback period will be 5 years (without grant). When commissioned,
this biomass boiler will supply 20-25% of the heat for the Campus buildings and reduce
the college’s CO2 emissions by around 150 tonnes.

With one of the existing oil-fired boilers being due for replacement, an average hourly
thermal profile of the existing boilers was examined to ascertain a suitable size of biomass
boiler to install.

From the graph you can see that that a 150kW boiler was the most suitable size, running
at full capacity for 6 months and ~50% capacity for 3 months. It is not recommended
to run biomass boilers below 30% of their capacity and so, if future demand in July and
August does not exceed previous years, this output may be met from the remaining oil-
fired boiler which will also be used to top up those months where demand exceeds the
capacity of the biomass boiler.

Heat meters will accurately measure the performance of the boiler and the volume and
quality of the fuel will be carefully monitored to fully assess the economics of using this

Nigel Moore, Renewable Energy Technologist, CAFRE
Tel: (028) 9442 6648    e-mail:nigel.moore@dardni.gov.uk
Mob: 07769 656075       Web: www.cafre.ac.uk

Ulster Farmers Union
Colin Smith, Policy Officer, Ulster Farmers Union
Tel: (028) 9037 0222        e-mail c.smith@ufuhq.com

Carbon Trust
Unit 9, Northern Ireland Science Park
The Innovation Centre, Queen’s Road, Queen’s Island
Belfast, BT3 9DT            Tel: 0800 085 2005.
Web: www.carbontrust.co.uk/energy

Action Renewables
Action Renewables Renewable Energy Advisory Service
Tel 0808 141 2020      Website: www.actionrenewables.org

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
RSPB Northern Ireland, Belvoir Park Forest, Belfast BT8 4QT
Tel: 028 9049 1547

Lindsay Easson, Renewable Energy Centre, AFBI, Hillsborough
Tel: 028 9268 2484        e-mail: lindsay.easson@afbini.gov.uk
Alistair R. McCracken, Applied Plant Science Division, AFBI,
Tel: 028 9025 5244        e-mail: alistair.mccracken@afbini.gov.uk

DARD Supply Chain Development Branch
Jim Crummie, Senior Supply Chain Development Adviser, DARD.
Tel: 028 9052 4605      e-mail jim.crummie@dardni.gov.uk

               Renewables Open Day

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