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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 nearly 300 acres, with a mind-boggling 4,000 chickens, 320 Ewes, and numerous geese. The owners also manage 12 acres of apple orchard and in a few years, plan to produce the best 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 can enjoy a drink at the hand-built bar when they arrive, before moving into the multi-functional main space, which can be set up for dining, dancing or meetings. 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 were asked to survey for the possibility of providing a source of renewable heating and hot water to this multi-building enterprise, along with advanced control technology which had to be both simple to use and remotely controllable. This controllability was deemed critical in contributing to increased overall energy efficiency across the site, which comprised a boiler house, main house, classroom, chicken rearing units and a wedding venue.

Late in 2018 we were also asked to return to the site to look at additionally providing Solar PV and battery storage. The Solar PV needed to be installed in time to qualify for the Feed-in-Tariff before it ended in March 2019.

The Solution

For the 2014 installation and following our site survey, we specified an ETA SH 60kW biomass (log) boiler, which was installed 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. Transit pipework was laid through the house en-route to the next leg of underground pipework supplying the classroom, where we installed a similar VT heating circuit.

In the classroom and chicken rearing units we installed additional VT heating circuits, both brought under the control of the centralised ETA biomass control system – allowing 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 allows the ETA biomass package to look at the heat demand across the whole site and the boiler can regulate its output as required.

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 without needing 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, after a year of data collection (to ensure enough excess electricity was generated). We ensured both options showed full costs and estimated paybacks via electricity savings and the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT).

The Results

Both Windout Farm installations were delivered on-time, within budget and future-proofed.

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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