MACKIES OF SCOTLAND is set to build a 250kW anaerobic digestion (AD) plant to turn slurry from its 400 dairy cows into biofuel.
The facility, at the companys Aberdeenshire plant, is currently under consideration. However, if it gets the go-ahead it will ensure Mackies is entirely dependent on renewable energy.
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 firms 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 Mackies power usage is at its highest.
The firm continues to take power from the grid when the wind isnt 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.
The company has teamed up with scientists at Edinburgh Napier Universitys Biofuel Business Programme (BBP) part of Edinburgh Napiers Biofuel Research Centre (BfRC) 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. They may also have to source feedstock other than the slurry.
BfRC director Martin Tangney 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.