Balbeg Estate is located in rural South Ayrshire. The business provides self catering accommodation in 5 properties, having the ability of sleeping up to 46 guests. In addition there is a Woodland business on the Estate, covering over 200 acres. To combat climate change the Estate has • Installed a 27 kw hydro scheme which can power 22 homes • Installed a 199kw woodchip biomass boiler to provide heat and hot water to 7 residential properties on Estate. • Planted new woodland over 128 acres which is predicted to sequester 12,856 tonnes of CO2 equivalent over the next 55 years.
At Balbeg Estate we have focussed on reducing our carbon footprint and impacting climate change through a number of specific projects undertaken over a number of years. Run of River Hydro Scheme With the electricity for the entire estate purchased from the national Grid it was clear that the electricity usage was high. Initially we consulted with Energy Savings Trust to identify steps which could be taken to reduce the usage. It was identified that a significant impact could be made by investigating the installation of a Hydro Scheme which would be located on Balbeg Burn, close to the electricity supply coming into the main property and to the properties utilising the electricity. A Hydro engineering consultant was appointed to carry out a survey and it was identified that the system was viable and would result in a significant reduction in the electricity which is drawn from the National Grid. The installation of the 27 kw run of river scheme involved construction of a water intake and weir on the burn, 500 metres of buried pipe and a wooden turbine building to house the turbine and generator. The system has been successfully generating electricity for over 9 years. • Supplies electricity to all 7 residential properties and associated Estate buildings and lighting • Produces enough electricity to power 22 houses with excess not used by Estate returned to the National Grid • Annually the production is around 90,000 kw and since construction has produced over 800,000 kw • Only power required for electricity production is the water from the burn which is returned to Balbeg Burn after going through the turbine Electric Vehicle Charging As a service to guests staying in the self catering properties we have installed 4 electric vehicle charging points. The electricity used by the EV points is supplied (when it rains) by electricity generated on site. As part of our commitment to reduce our use of fossil fuels the Estate operates an electric vehicle. Woodchip Biomass The Estate used a mixture of 8 inefficient electric and oil boilers to provide heat and hot water to the 7 residential properties on the Estate. These boilers were older, inefficient and required maintenance more than once per year. After appointing a consultant to design a suitable system and run a tender process, a 199kw woodchip boiler was installed in a newly constructed building accommodating the boiler and fuel store with the capacity to store 9 tonnes of woodchip. The boiler is fed by woodchip which is locally sourced and partly supplied by timber from Estate. The system • Supplies heat and hot water to all 7 properties on Estate and is serviced by a local specialised engineer. • Produces over 250,000 kwh of power annually and since installation seven years ago has produced over 1.75m kw of power New Woodland Creation Balbeg Estate has a burgeoning timber business covering over 200 acres on Estate. In recent years over 50 acres of timber has been harvested as it reached maturity and a mixture of hard woods, specialist trees and softwoods have been replanted. The greatest impact on climate change has been a project to transform a 128 acre area of unproductive hill used for light sheep grazing by creating a new woodland. A new woodland was planted on Bennan Hill, in 2019. This comprised a mixture of conifer, diverse conifer, and mixed broadleaves with 13 acres of open space, left to provide access for the public to enjoy the woodlands. By creating the new woodland the Estate was able to introduce a natural form of climate change mitigation purely from biological growth. Trees by absorbing sunshine and nutrients naturally convert these biological elements into timber and sequester carbon. The conifers species selected within this plantation are fast growing and thus enable a rapid uptake of carbon, aiding mitigation of the climate change emergency our planet faces. The new plantation is validated on the Woodland Carbon Code and predicted to sequester 12,856 tonnes of CO2 equivalent over the next 55 years, which equates to 100 tonnes per acre over 128 acres. In addition, the diverse mix of species enables native broadleaves to be managed on a non-intervention policy until maturity and provide a myriad of aesthetically pleasing broadleaved fringes.