Stracathro Estates have embraced renewable energy, and income from the various schemes now contributes significantly to the turnover. They are conscious that the carbon footprint of intensive farming is considerable, and whilst minimum tillage and variable rate applications can reduce emissions somewhat, they recognise they have an obligation to offset wherever possible.
In summer 2013, they applied for permission to erect an Enercon E-48 wind turbine with a capacity of 800kW. Following a consultation process with neighbours there were no objections and twenty-four letters of support. Planning was granted by Christmas, the turbine was erected in June 2104, and was commissioned in August. The total cost was £1.16m, coming in £80,000 under budget. It produced 1850 megawatt hours of electricity in its first year, enough to offset 950 tonnes of CO2.
There are two solar panel schemes currently running and one which is still at the planning phase. The intention of installing an 100kW array on the grain store had to be curtailed to 50kW due to an disproportionate connection charge for the larger scheme. The cost was £60,000 and it produced 48 megawatt hours in its first year, offsetting 25 tonnes of CO2.
The second active scheme is on a residential property at Huntlyhill Steading where five three-bedroomed houses have been converted from an old disused steading. Solar panels have been fitted on the south facing aspect of the steading roof (the look is impressively sympathetic), where around 8 megawatt hours of electricity are produced, saving around 4 tons of CO2.
Stracathro Estates have installed two biofuel boilers, fuelled by wood pellets. One supplies a single farmhouse and the Estate Office and the other communally heats and supplies hot water a five-bedroomed farmhouse and the afore-mentioned five three-bedroomed houses. The Estate has managed to cap the heating and electricity to each property to only £55/month on the basis of the savings achieved using biomass. This fixed price for hot water and heating together with free electricity when the sun shines, augments the principle of affordable housing where the reduced rent was made possible by a capital grant from the Scottish Government. The combined usage of both schemes is 180,000 kilowatt hours, giving a saving in CO2 over kerosene of 43 tonnes. The intention is to roll out communal heating systems, or individual wood burners throughout Stracathro’s residential property, to reduce further its kerosene dependency.
Finally, a gas to grid Anaerobic Digestion System has been installed. Externally funded, and with a capacity of 3.75million m3 of Biomethene, it produces 37,350 megawatt/hours of energy, sufficient to provide 3,000 homes.
Stracathro have shown their unstinting commitment to reducing their carbon footprint wherever possible by improved farming methods, by reduction of the use of fossil fuels and for offsetting by embracing renewable energy. They should be applauded for doing so. They embrace their environmental responsibility as much as they do the commercial production side of the business and it really is very impressive indeed.