As a result of meeting the NFU Farm Energy Service’s due diligence process,Ecovision, the sustainable and renewable energy specialist, has been accepted as an approved NFU supplier for biomass and heat pump renewable energy solutions.

“The most important thing for farmers looking at how they can benefit from renewable energy, is for them to be absolutely sure that they are being given advice from a reputable, established supplier with a good knowledge of the farming industry and a proven track record in successfully delivering the most appropriate renewable energy solution for its customers,” said Chris Adcock, MD, Ecovision, which operates nationally from its Gloucestershire base on the Highgrove Estate. “The NFU Farm Energy Service has been designed to ensure exactly that and Ecovision has met their stringent requirements!”

“As energy costs continue to eat away at farmers’ profit margins and as many fight to maintain reasonable levels of income, we should be doing everything we can to ensure that they understand just how renewable energy can save them money, reduce their impact on the environment plus importantly, provide them with an additional revenue,” continued Adcock.

Ecovision’s experienced team are able to talk farmers through the renewable energy options and then work with them to decide whether a biomass or heat pump is the best solution to meet their individual energy needs.

Crucially, Ecovision uses its expertise to advise farmers on how to take full advantage of the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Introduced to encourage the take up of renewable energy, the RHI pays a tariff for every kilowatt (kW) hour of energy generated to heat and provide hot water to both homes and business properties.

Including the RHI tariff, a switch from a traditional oil fired boiler to a renewable energy 60kW biomass boiler system to provide heat and hot water to a large farmhouse (600 m2), can result in a saving against previous oil costs and taking into account the running costs of the biomass boiler, of around £9,500 a year.

Perhaps even more important than the energy cost savings are the regular quarterly index linked RHI tariff payments, paid on non-domestic properties for 20 years, as they provide farmers with an additional regular income.

The initial investment of approximately £55,000 in a 60kW biomass boiler system, based on a 20 year investment period (the length of the RHI payments) at a rate of 17%, means that payback can be achieved in five years with the RHI tariff continuing to be paid for the remaining fifteen.

For those farmers where a heat pump is the better renewable energy option similar levels of energy costs, payback timescales and return on investment are achievable – as a guide see estimated figures below.

“Historically, the capital expenditure needed for the installation of renewable energy solutions has been a project blocker for many farmers. But not anymore. Ecovision has a range of finance solutions specifically tailored to meet a wide variety of needs, including no upfront capital investment or monthly finance payments. These solutions give farmers the opportunity to benefit from government support through the RHI and improve their cash flow in year one with no capital expenditure,” added Adcock.

As concerns around farming’s impact on the environment grow an important element of switching to renewable energy is that farmers can be seen to be taking steps to reduce their carbon emissions. A 60kW biomass boiler will deliver a reduction in emissions of 47.7 tonnes when compared to an oil fired boiler.

“Ecovision joins us as a member of our approved renewable energy suppliers as they passed our stringent due diligence process. They have been an established renewable energy supplier for many years, with a proven track record, and their clients rate them very highly,” Jon Swain at the NFU’s Farm Energy Service.

“There is no question that installing a renewable energy solution can mean making a significant initial investment. So it is really important that farmers make that investment with a NFU Farm Energy approved supplier who they are confident will ensure that they receive the substantial return on investment which can be achieved,” concluded Adcock.

Estimated savings around heat pump renewable energy systems:

Ground source heat pumps (GSHP)

For a large farmhouse (600 m2) with available land to accommodate ground collector loops or boreholes, an initial investment of around £60,000 in a GSHP will deliver a combined saving, against oil costs plus the RHI tariff and taking into account running costs, in the region of £11,000 a year. Over a 20 year investment period at a rate of return of 21% payback is possible in five years and you will continue to receive the RHI tariff for twenty years, index linked.

Air source heat pumps (ASHP)

Based on a large farmhouse, as above, an initial investment of £45,000 in an ASHP will deliver a combined saving against oil costs plus the RHI tariff and taking into account running costs, of around £6,000 a year. Again, based on a 20 year investment period at a rate of return of 19%,payback can be achieved in five years and you will still continue to receive RHI tariff as a regular income.

Ecovision believes that the key to reducing our carbon emissions is to work in harmony with the environment to produce sustainable solutions not just renewable solutions. It advises on, designs, installs and supports affordable sustainable solutions in the form of air, ground and water source heat pumps, biomass boilers, solar thermal and solar PV systems.

Operating nationally from its base on the Highgrove Estate in Gloucestershire, Ecovision has a proven track record within the renewable energy marketplace having installed over 5,500 systems in properties and businesses of all sizes fromcommercial properties to stately homes such as Castle Howard through to single bedroomed apartments.