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Mackie’s ice-cream cows have the power
Mackie’s of Scotland is aiming to be one of the UK’s biggest, fully sustainable companies by installing a plant that will transform the slurry from its 400-strong herd of cows into biofuel to help power its Aberdeenshire plant
The company has teamed up with scientists at Edinburgh Napier University’s Biofuel Business Programme (BBP) to devise plans for the plant that will use thousands of tonnes of slurry to generate methane biogas which can then be transformed into electricity.
It is estimated that using AD will help the firm to save up to £300,000 in fuel costs as well as creating one new job and safeguarding two others.
Mackie’s of Scotland is one of a number of businesses given advice and assistance by the BBP, part of Edinburgh Napier’s Biofuel Research Centre (BfRC) to help them turn waste products into fuel.
It approached the BBP seeking help to deal more efficiently with the slurry which is currently used as an agricultural fertilizer.
The company was an early adopter of renewable energy, introducing an 800kW wind turbine in 2005 to supply electricity to the farm and ice cream production, followed by an additional two 800kW turbines in 2007, which now supply 70% of the firm’s energy needs and allow 62% of their total output to be exported to the national grid.
A further 50kW of solar panels were added earlier this year to complement the wind turbines to reduce grid usage during daylight hours when Mackie’s power usage is at its highest.
The firm continues to take power from the grid when the wind isn’t blowing or when its consumption is higher than the output from its renewable sources and directors believe installing an AD plant will make this no longer necessary.
“Part of Mackie’s vision is to be the greenest company in Britain. We are always looking for new ways to reduce our carbon footprint and improve the environment,”
“With over 400 cows that produce milk for our luxury ice cream, we were looking for an efficient use for the other by-product from the cows.
“A study prepared by scientists at Edinburgh Napier’s Biofuel Business Programme identified the possibility of using it to produce electricity and heat whist still producing a more concentrated fertiliser from the distillate.
“We have identified that a 250kW AD plant would be about the right size for the business and we are investigating possible feedstock in addition to slurry. The benefit would be an on-demand renewable energy source where we could run the AD engine and produce electricity when we need it. This would complement our existing renewable energy sources.”
Professor Martin Tangney, Director of the BfRC, said: “Scotland leads the way in seeking alternative energy sources, with ambitious self-imposed targets.
“Key to achieving these goals will be adoption of renewable energy technologies by Scottish companies and our objective at the Biofuel Research Centre is to assist wherever possible in introducing sustainable biofuels and bioenergy from renewable resources.
“Mackies is a fantastic example of a company looking across the board to cut its carbon footprint and strive towards self-sufficiency for energy.”
A Spokeswoman for Scottish Renewables said: “Considering the demands on energy must be fairly high, it is impressive that Mackie’s aims to be totally sustainable.
“It’s a great example of what Scottish companies can do and shows that they are harnessing all their natural resources – wind, sun and now waste.”
For more info visit: http://www.napier.ac.uk/
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The BfRC at Edinburgh Napier University was established in 2007 and is led by Professor Martin Tangney, an internationally recognized expert in microbial biofuel production.
It is the UK’s first research centre dedicated to the development of sustainable biofuel.
The Biofuel Business Programme works with small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland to raise awareness of the processes involved in converting biomass waste into bio-energy and sustainable biofuels.
Businesses which engage with the BBP receive a range of benefits, including free consultancy services, a free quarterly newsletter, regular, sector-specific workshops and membership of the biofuel business network.
The Biofuel Business Programme has a Feasibility Fund of up to £5,000 available to SMEs looking to gain access to academic expertise. For an application form and more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.