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Case Study

Windout Farm, in a Devon valley

Windout Farm

  • Biomass, Solar PV and Battery Storage readiness
  • Yearly income C. £12,904
  • 20 year benefit C. £258,100

The Client

Windout Farm manages organic livestock across 300 acres. with a mind-boggling 4,000 chickens, 320 Ewes, as well as numerous geese. Additionally, the owners also manage 12 acres of apple orchard, which in future years will produce the top-quality juice from specially selected varieties.

The owners have also developed Windout Barn, a wedding venue seating between 60-75 people. Split into two rooms, guests enjoy a drink at the hand-built bar when they arrive, before moving into the multi-functional main space. This can be set up for dining, dancing or meetings. Besides all this, tucked away into one ancient cranny is the famous ‘Ursell Coffee Temple’, offered as part of the barn experience.

The Challenge

This case study spans 4 years and multi-technology renewables.

In 2014 we surveyed for the supply of a renewable heating source and hot water to this multi-building enterprise. At the same time, we specified advanced control technology. Of course, this had to be simple to use and remotely controllable. Controllability was critical in contributing to increased overall energy efficiency across the site. The area comprised a boiler house, main house, classroom, chicken rearing units and a wedding venue.

Not only did we accomplish this, but late in 2018 we returned to the site to look at additionally providing Solar PV and battery storage. For the installation to qualify for the Feed-in-Tariff before it ended, we installed the Solar PV prior the end of March 2019.

The Solution – 2014

For the 2014 installation and following our site survey, we specified an ETA SH 60kW biomass (log) boiler. We installed this in a dedicated boiler house. In the main house we installed a weather compensated, Variable Temperature (VT) heating circuit and a central, simple to use ETA touchscreen controller. We also installed pipework into the existing Domestic Hot Water (DHW) cylinder. Significantly, we laid Transit pipework through the house en-route to the next leg of underground pipework. This supplied the classroom, where we installed a similar VT heating circuit.

Equally important, in the classroom and chicken rearing units we installed additional VT heating circuits. These were both brought under the control of the centralised ETA biomass control system. With this in mind, it enabled automated control by the boiler and remote monitoring.

For the wedding venue, we installed 2 x 17kW blown air convector heaters and relevant pipework and components. By connecting the convector control system to the boiler, it allowed the ETA biomass package to look at the heat demand across the entire site and the boiler regulates its output as required.

The Solution – 2018

During 2018 we ran a heat main out to a brand-new, purpose-built 4,000 bird hatchery. Thanks to foresight in our original installation, our engineering team were able to balance the heat load. This meant there was no need to replace the biomass boiler to increase output, despite the significant increase in heat demand.

Finally on the roof of the new hatchery, we installed and commissioned 2 x 4.32kW roof mounted Solar PV systems. In addition, we made this installation ready for each Solar PV array to include the retrofitting of 2.5kWh of battery storage capacity. This was to be after a year of data collection, ensuring excess electricity generation. We ensured both options showed full costs and estimated paybacks via electricity savings and the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT).

The Results

In short, delivery of the entire system was on-time, within budget.

For the 2014 biomass installation, the system yielded the following results:

  • £11,352.96 total benefit per annum over twenty years (£227,000)

For the 2018 Solar PV installation, the system yields the following:

  • £1,555.02 total annual FiT earnings and savings – £31,100.37 over twenty years

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