Cultivating Energy in the Agricultural Sector

By 16 December 2019 General

Agricultural businesses are under increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions and improve on the renewable sources of energy across the sector.

In comparison to our European counterparts, our farming industry is almost at the bottom of the list in terms of renewable sources of energy, which is being publicised more and more following increased pressure on climate change across the sector.

In fact, only 23% of farms across the UK use renewable technologies (Northern farming Conference, 4th November 2019).

There are a number of ways however, that renewable energy can be incorporated into a farming organisation.

Ground Source or Geothermal Heat Pumps

Ground Source or Geothermal Heat Pumps allow farmers to take advantage of their large land space to utilise a more efficient source of heating for their site. Not only this but they can generate Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payments for their business for up to 25 years. This again offsets existing sources of heat with renewable technology as well as generating additional revenue on site.

Ground Source Heat Pump Association (GSHPA) explains exactly what this source of energy is ‘The ground – mother earth – acts as a very large store of heat energy. It can be used as a heat source in winter, or a heat sink in summer. The ground can be used to moderate the temperature in buildings standing on it. A ground source heat pump can be used to extract heat energy from the ground in winter and to transfer the heat into buildings. Equally, it can be used to provide a very efficient mechanism for heat to escape from buildings down into the ground in summer.’

Monitoring

Monitoring the current usage of electricity or gas is one of the most effective ways to reduce your consumption, for any business, including those in agriculture. Once you have identified areas of over-use, you can effectively put measures in place to reduce this, saving money and reducing your carbon footprint. You can find out more about monitoring and effectively managing your energy usage by reading our latest blog here.

Anaerobic Digestion Plants

Anaerobic Digestion Plants are becoming more and more prevalent within the agricultural sector by compressing food waste to generate energy. This process simply uses on-site waste and the aerobic bacteria within said waste to consume organic matter to convert into carbon dioxide, which in turn powers turbines to generate power across the site for the farm. Therefore, reducing or completely alleviating the need for mains electricity supply. This also reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill sites.

Described by The NNFCC  ‘Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is a natural process where plant and animal materials (biomass) are broken down by micro-organisms in the absence of air. The AD process begins when biomass is put inside a sealed tank or digester. Naturally occurring micro-organisms digest the biomass, which releases a methane-rich gas (biogas) that can be used to generate renewable heat and power; this helps cut fossil fuel use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The remaining material (digestate) is rich in nutrients, so it can be used as a fertiliser.’


Source: The Official Information Portal on Anaerobic Digestion

Solar

Yes, it a common one that is highlighted frequently, but they are one of the most effective methods of energy efficiency. Solar panels and fully-fledged solar farms are a great way to allow businesses to offset their existing mains electricity supply on-site. As well as this they generate a revenue stream through Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with suppliers able to sell the excess generation back to the grid.

There are other technologies available to businesses, however, the above-mentioned technologies are the main contributors in the fight against climate change and the farming target for carbon zero by 2050.

At Utility Team we are able to help and assist in various ways to ensure businesses are energy efficient and can provide funding options to make them financially viable.

In conjunction with the management of technology Utility Team can offer monitoring software to track consumption and carbon offsetting. We can offer green procurement strategies through a number of suppliers utilising both technology and green energy procurement, combating climate change with a more holistic approach. Not only that, at Utility Team we are in a position to commission and maintain solar systems but also arrange PPAs with suppliers to generate additional revenue into the business. There are many ways in which we can help your business, don’t hesitate, contact us for more information and to discuss your options today; enquiries@utilityteam.co.uk / 02476 997901.

 

Article written by: Sean Pinder, Regional Director