Without consciously thinking about it, policy on an upland rural estate has always involved “environmentally friendly” management. Historically both our livelihood and that of others on the estate has come from extensive livestock farming, forestry and field sports – activities which, sensitively managed, tend to give at least as much back to the land as they take out.
As understanding of the effect of unrestricted fossil fuel consumption on the environment has increased, attention has turned to the part that “renewables” – resources which, responsibly used, provide energy without depleting the environmental bank balance – can play in providing the energy needed to make modern society function. These resources, wind, water, sun, sea and some crops – can all be harvested and as the technology to do so develops opportunities arise for new business ventures.
In 2009 a consultant from Napier University looked at our natural resources and suggested what options we might have for developing power generation.
Although the Findhorn and Divie rivers run through the estate, both are relatively inaccessible and wild in nature as well as having important geological formations and plant colonies. We decided that hydro power was not a viable option.
Wood Power: Biomass
Woodland has always been a major feature of the Moray landscape and the county is justifiably proud of its reputation for growing high class timber. The best timber comes from woods which are regularly thinned to give the trees space to grow and the thinnings give us excellent material for converting into woodchip fuel.
In 2012 we installed a 195 kW woodchip boiler which now provides for all the heating and hot water needs of Logie Steading, Logie House and 4 cottages. Imported oil and electricity have been replaced with a locally produced, renewable fuel.
For every tree harvested at least one, and often more, are planted.
Several areas of the estate were identified as having likely potential for wind generation and after some detailed investigation we installed a single, medium sized 55kW turbine in 2012. We have gained valuable experience in both construction and operation.
Experience with this turbine encouraged us to look at a larger scale windfarm and we joined forces with Muirden Energy, an Aberdeenshire firm who have expertise in wind projects, in 2011. Following extensive survey and pre planning work a formal planning application was lodged in early 2013 and planning permission for twelve 2.3 MW turbines was granted in April 2014. The windfarm is being built in partnership with Muirden Energy, keeping as much as possible of the economic benefit flowing from both construction and operation within the local area.
Timescales are subject to change but work on site began in late 2015, the turbines went up during the summer of 2016 and the windfarm should be commissioned in late 2016 or early 2017.
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