ENERGY FROM OTHER RENEWABLE SOURCES

Within the Blackmore Vale there are alternative sources of renewable energy which include:-

1) BIOFUEL

Wessex Grain, the farmer owned grain trading business based at Henstridge in the Blackmore Vale, is working to establish a grain processing plant next to its 50,000 tonne granary to produce renewable transport fuel. Wheat will be milled, fermented and distilled to produce an alcohol fuel, bioethanol, which can be used in petrol to improve the octane rating and reduce exhaust emissions. Alcohol fuels are not new. The first mass produced car, the T model Ford, was designed to run on bioethanol produced from maize. In fact UK motorists used an alcohol fuel, Cleveland Discol, for high performance cars until the late 1960’s. The Wessex Grain plant will also produce a high protein, non-GM, cattle feed that will compete with imported GM maize gluten. The company aims to commence production in the first half of 2006.

This plant would produce as much energy in a year as would be generated from over 100 wind turbines of the type proposed for Cucklington.

Let’s be power base - Western Gazette - 1 January 2004 (click to view article)

2) BIOGAS

Organic Power Ltd, based at Horsington in the Blackmore Vale, has developed a patented anaerobic digestion technology (The Maltin System) that offers a cost effective and environmentally sustainable means of creating renewable energy (in the form of methane gas) from organic waste such as animal slurry or food processing waste

Anaerobic digestion is a completely natural process and does not need any additional materials, chemicals or additives. As well as methane gas, other commercially valuable by-products such as odourless fertiliser are also produced.

The process is based on conventional anaerobic digestion technology but differs fundamentally from alternative systems and is thus more efficient and more productive. The system is sustainable; causes no damage to the environment, no visual impact, no noise, no odours; can operate at a small local level or on an industrial scale; operates twenty four hours a day, seven days a week; and has minimum capital and running costs. It is designed to use local labour for construction and operation and is suitable for all habitats, but especially rural farming communities.

The methane produced is identical to natural gas in its makeup except that it is renewable. It can be used as a vehicle fuel, for heating and to generate electricity.

3) BIOMASS

A third company is constructing a plant to extract energy from biomass.

4) GEOTHERMAL

In Cucklington, we have one of the first installations of geothermal power under the DTI “Clear Skies” initiative. In reality, this is a technology that captures solar energy. The sun heats the land especially during spring and summer and then this heat is extracted by a network of underground pipes, mainly in winter, to provide under floor heating. Installed costs for a 4 bedroom house would be under £4000 giving a pay-back of under 4 years (under 3 years if the DTI grant of £1200 is taken into account).

5) SOLAR

Solar energy appears to be being ignored. The ongoing improvements to the technology and the reduction in installed prices will make this an increasingly cost effective and popular solution. But current costs could still be in excess of £5000 (before DTI “Clear Skies” grant of £1200) for a 4 bedroom house making it less attractive than geothermal above. In the UK, there is poor solar radiation from the sun when we most need energy i.e. during the winter.

6) HYDRO

Within South Somerset there are a number of small scale hydroelectric schemes that will generate electricity.