Earthmill gets hot under the collar with renewables investment

WIND turbine firm Earthmill has announced a “major” diversification into the combined heat and power renewable energy market.

The low carbon technology Earthmill has invested in uses a reactor which heats sustainable fuel such as woodchip to produce a flammable biogas, which is then used as fuel in a gas engine to drive a generator and produce electricity.

A lot of heat is produced in the process but not wasted, unlike in conventional power stations.

The energy is used to heat water which can then be used on farms to circulate around and heat dairies, or pig or poultry sheds making the process around 88% efficient for these high energy and heat-consuming farms.

The CHP units cost £320,000 to buy and install, can be operational within three months, with the initial investment recoverable within five years.

Steve Milner, managing director of Earthmill said: “We were one of the pioneers of farm-scale wind power in the UK, and since then we have been staying close to all emerging technologies.

“This is the first time we have seen a clean power technology that is sustainable and proven to deliver the same long-term returns on investment and operational benefits we saw in the wind sector several years ago,” said

Earthmill’s announcement of its diversification into CHP follows over a year of research and negotiation with leading technology suppliers. The venture will formally launch its offering, Earthmill CHP, at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate this week.

Earthmill will become the first installer in the North of England, and the first in the UK to offer a customer co-operative for fuel buying and energy sales into the national grid, maximising operators’ profits.

He added: “For the thousands of farms across the UK that have had wind turbine planning applications declined over the last five years, the new technology, which has no planning restrictions, will enable some of those farmers who missed the opportunity of generating income from wind to diversify rapidly into the energy sector.

“There will be an urgency to get into the market before subsidies are reduced, but CHP technology is sustainable in the long term, which is why we have taken the decision to invest heavily in the new division.”

Founded in 2009 by Mr Milner, the firm now has a turnover of £13m with 200 turbines across the country.