Friday, 27 May 2011

Dairyfarmers can produce a Green Dairy Industry

The Dairy Industry has the potential to produce its own electricity & be clear of the National Grid. What a PR victory that will be for the first UK dairy company & their suppliers. What a wonderful image that will be for milk, cheese & butter! Every dairy farmer must get involved to “kick this goal” for the dairy industry. We have a fantastic opportunity right now with interest free loans & massive incentives thru the Feed in Tariffs for on farm generation. Each dairy farm has the potential to generate more than they consume in the milking parlour plus the surplus could effectively be claimed by the milk processor for the good of milk (even though in reality the producer gets paid for surplus sales into the grid). Let’s look at wind! Gavin in North Devon has installed two 11Kw Gaia wind turbines – i.e. they will produce 11Kw per hour in ideal wind. His farm site has an average wind speed of 5.7metres per second – not very windy but he does get a little wind on most days – it is also clean wind from all directions. The Gaia turbine is designed to start at low wind speeds ( 3 m/s – most others need 5 before they start producing ) and has a fixed rotor speed making it fairly quiet – which is why he chose that type of turbine. The Turbines were predicted (at av. 5.7m/sec) to produce 32,000 Kilowatts each in the year. In 10 months the average daily production has been 90 Kw per turbine giving a predicted yield of 32,850 – as long as the wind blows for the next two months. With a production of 65,000 (current annual consumption is approx 55,000kwh)the income should be £17,000 from the Feed in Tariffs and the sale of electricity (paid for half of what I produce). With a saving of not buying 30,000 units at 8p gives a saving of £2,400. So £19,400 annual gain (the Feed in Tariffs are also index linked and guaranteed for 20 years for wind) from a £100,000 total cost gives a very healthy return on investment.Pay back period is close to 5 years & the turbines are generating 120% of farm consumption. Behind the new Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) is the drive to reduce UK carbon emissions in order to bring them into line with European standards. The Government aim to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2050 and the current projection is that by 2020 almost half of the electricity used in the UK will be from low carbon sources. In order to reach these targets the Government is relying on residential & small business owners to switch to renewable energy and help eliminate the carbon footprint. At the heart of the scheme is a tariff of 26.7p/unit for all renewable electricity generated from small wind turbines in the 1.5-15kW range. This incentive replaces the carbon credit (ROC) scheme for small wind turbines. If you install a small wind turbine will now benefit from the feed in tariff in three ways: lower energy bills, payments from electricity you feed back into the grid, & further payment from the FIT for all the energy you generate & either use yourself or feed back to the grid.
The challenge on all dairy farms is not about “can the farm generate more energy than is consumed” but rather “how to deal with the peak loadings of the twice daily milking”. There are several options- first is to store the energy generated either in batteries or in say hot water or ice. The technology for batteries is not yet efficient enough but it’s an area of intense worldwide research.
The obvious solution is to reduce peak demand. First you should be installing a Smart meter to monitor existing power consumption. Ask your electricity supplier
Next you need to investigate the technologies that are already being used successfully by other dairy farmers eg Varivac systems. Every parlour is different but generally with the oil vane type pumps that are predominant in the UK, savings are around 75% of power usage on the pumps themselves, generally the savings are around 40% over the whole parlour electricity cost. Varivac have single phase models to cover the whole range so really any parlour can have a Varivac now.
Heat Recovery technology is being used successfully in many pasture based dairyfarms in the UK. Gavin in North Devon has installed Varivac & Heat Recovery units & reduced total farm demand by approx 20%. The next challenge is to install "smart technology" that allows the switching on & off of equipment when he can make full use of the wind. Tim in Shropshire has installed a heat recovery unit, solar water heating & Varivac systems. He has seen on his smart meter similar total farm saving. The Smart meter graph shows when the energy saving devices were installed.You can see the impact of the very cold weather last December when heating & hot water effectively doubled demand during milking. So it's up to you which generation option you chose but you also need to deal with reducing peak demand. See the blog I wrote on the 15th October 2010.Seek out the interest free loans

. Current UK Pasture Measurements

Mixed rainfall, most areas in the UK still dry, Wales coast good rain & growth. Cold temperatures & drying winds depressing effect of recent rain. SE England very dry & struggling for pasture.

TheAverage Pasture Cover (kgsDM/ha) & Pasture Growth (kgsDM/ha/day)

South Ayrshire, AFC 2349,Growth =Demand 68kgs, soil temp 9.9degrees C

Derbyshire, 2365, growth 80kgsDM/ha/day, Demand 64

Herefordshire, 2150, growth 55, Demand 60

Gloucestershire, 2073, growth 51, demand 50 Getting very dry

Pembrokeshire, 2041, growth 61, wedge has hole will feed silage

Sussex Organic, AFC 1481,growth 11kgs, Drying off early really need rain

East Sussex, 1900, growth 30, desparate for rain

North Devon, AFC 2350, 65kgs, some rain some recovery from dry

Limerick, Ireland, 2250, growth 70kgs

Fish Creek, Gippsland Victoria Australia (autumn) AFC 2550, growth 38, AFC increasing, unusually wet last of spring calvers being dried off.

It maybe of interest to you that this blog has been read by people in 58 different countries this month ...a truely international audience!

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