28-07-2014 02:03 AM | Arable, Cereal, Crops, News, Renewables

Biomass investment slashes drying costs by 70 percent



Angus unit opens its gates next week to show impact of biomass, wind and solar on farm business.

With harvest underway, the good news for one Arbroath farmer is that investment in two batch boilers has slashed any potential grain drying costs by around 70 percent.

Next Wednesday (30 July), farmers with an interest in renewable technology are invited to visit Robert Ramsay’s West Mains of Kinblethmont farm where he has installed two batch boilers (300kW and 600kW) and two wood chip boilers (75kW and 195kW).

Particular focus will be given to the continuous flow grain drying system which is run off the two batch boilers and the upgrading works that Robert is looking at undertaking to this system. In addition to the biomass boilers there are chip boilers providing district heating to a number of premises; an operational 11kW Gaia wind turbine and a 50kW solar PV system providing electricity.

The day, staged as part of NFU Scotland’s Renewables Development Initiative, will begin with an overview of Robert’s vision for the farm and the drivers behind his investment in renewable energy and then move onto a number of practical workshops with the installers of the different systems.

The RDI, co-ordinated by Thomas McMillan of Smiths Gore, is helping Scottish farmers and land managers fulfil their energy generating potential. Through a programme of on-farm events, the initiative has already shown hundreds of Scottish farmers energy projects that are contributing to farm businesses or at the planning stage. RDI on-farm open days held across Scotland in the past six months have looked at wind, solar, biomass, hydro and anaerobic digestion.

Speaking ahead of the event, Robert Ramsay said: “Drying crops in Scotland with fossil fuels is not sustainable, that’s why I moved to biomass.

“For me to heat my dryer with red diesel - at 64.79 p per litre – would cost me 6.3 pence per kilowatt hour (kWh). Using straw, at a cost of £65 per tonne, the cost of drying falls to 2p per kWh. The fuel costs involved in drying have been reduced by 70 percent.

“I am a self-confessed “eco-nerd” and visitors to the open day will see that our involvement in renewables is part of an overall farming policy that keeps an eye on sustainability and lower carbon production.”

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