Heat Recovery Bonanza; Alternative Sources of Energy Could Be Crucial in Cutting Costs in the Farming Industry. Graeme King Examines the Case for Investment, and Finds It Might Not Just Be Farmers Benefiting. Environment

Article excerpt

Byline: Graeme King

THERE cannot be many a business or household in the country which has not debated the spiralling cost of energy in recent years.

In any industry with a heavy demand for energy, that debate can be the difference between accounts being in the black or the red.

There has been a strong growth in the development of alternative fuels and power sources, with the North East hosting one of the biggest centres for the industry in Europe. Some of the leading alternative power generation comes from wind turbines to offset electricity bills, and solar panels to produce enough power to run lighting and machinery.

New businesses are springing up to take advantage of alternative energy, and farmers are often in prime position to take advantage, given the land and buildings at their disposal.

And now a company from Hexham is looking at alternative energy from a different perspective - not generating power as a 'crop' to drive revenue, but using a heat recovery system to save money on milk production.

Hadrian Farm Services says it can save dairy farmers a massive 75% on their water heating costs, and the cost of installation can be subsidised by 50% grants in Northumberland and Durham to help make the system pay for itself quite rapidly.

Businesses can also claim 100% capital writedown against tax in year one for energy conservation.

The company says it has installed its technology in around 20 North East farms and has ambitions to take it regionwide and into Cumbria and North Yorkshire too.

Malcolm Archer of Hadrian Farm Services, said: "We are able to heat water on a dairy farm to 60 or 70 degrees. We even have a case where the system is boiling the water.

"The farms need boiling water for when the lines are all washed out. They might need anything from 100 to 200 gallons per day."

Mr Archer said Hadrian was examining what other industries the technology could be applied to.

He said: "The technology could also be used outside agriculture, in applications like butchers' shops, or even hotels.

"Anywhere using refrigeration units which require hot water too. The potential is endless. There is a very, very big market for us. It can go beyond the dairy industry."

Hadrian says the grant funding available for its heat recovery system means it can pay for itself inside two years, and after that, it can help to reduce a business's water heating costs by as much as 75%. …