Wetherby-based farm wind turbine firm Earthmill was at the Great Yorkshire Show this week to launch Earthmill CHP, a major new diversification into the combined heat and power (CHP) renewable energy market.
The £13m turnover Earthmill business was launched in 2009 by managing director Steve Milner and has grown to become the UK’s biggest supplier of wind turbines to farmers and landowners. The firm now has over 200 turbines across the UK, with offices in Yorkshire and service and technical teams throughout the country.
The low-carbon technology uses a specially designed reactor which heats sustainable fuel such as woodchip to produce a flammable gas. The clean-burning ‘biogas’ is then used as fuel in a gas engine to drive a generator and produce electricity. A large amount of heat is produced in the process but unlike conventional power stations, it is not wasted. The thermal or heat energy is transferred into water which can then be used on farms to heat dairies, or pig or poultry sheds making the process over 88 per cent efficient.
Due to its low emissions, an accredited CHP unit qualifies for double subsidies: the high-reward ‘Biogas RHI’, or Renewable Heat Incentive tariff, for the thermal energy that is captured in the process; and ‘ROCs’, or Renewable Obligations, as reward for producing clean electricity.
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.”
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.
Mark Woodward, Earthmill commercial director, added: “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.”