At Vine House Farm we see renewable energy as an important aspect of life and indeed a key aspect of saving our planet. Our world is progressively being destroyed by man and one of the ways we see of reversing this trend is by harnessing natural energy. Of course there is far more to sustainability than just using renewable energy: We can use less energy by insulating our homes better, use low energy light bulbs, and make our car journeys more effective.
We should think to the future. If we install solar panels or a wind turbine it may be a long time paying for itself and not be regarded as a paying proposition, but it could be regarded as an insurance policy or a pension, as eventually the world's dependency on oil will have to come to an end.
We harness renewable energy in a number of ways here at Vine House Farm:
Since 1980 Vine House Farm house and office has been heated by straw or wood. With the Biomass boiler we now also heat the farm shop and museum. Nicholas estimates that he would have used 500,000 litres of oil without his biomass boiler.
We would like to think that the wind turbines we have on the farm show the district that we are serious about renewable energy. The wind farm consists of eight turbines in total, with three being on our farm. Each turbine is rated as a 2mw turbine, are 100m tall to the top tip and the farm produces enough energy to power nearly 9000 homes per year. The electricity produced by these turbines is put directly into the main grid.
We also have two 100kw wind turbines on our farm at Baston Fen, constructed in 2011. We use some of the energy that these produce to power our potato cold store at Baston Fen, and the excess is exported to the grid.
Five of our farm buildings have solar panels, producing up to 50kw of electricity each. The solar panels were first installed in 2011. We use some of this electricity on the farm for powering our grain stores and potato cold stores. The excess energy that is produced is then exported into the national grid for everyone else to use.
Waste oil burner
Our bird food warehouse is heated when required by a waste oil burner. This is the oil that we take out of our tractors and other engines when we service them. Our warehouse was also built with insulated panels to help reduce the requirement for heating.
Our potato cold store here at Vine House Farm is like a giant fridge. Like all fridges, it produces a lot of heat when working. We are able to harness this waste heat and we use this for heating our bird seed warehouse. So with this, and the waste oil burner, our bird food buildings are heated completely with renewable energy.
Reuse, recycle and be efficient
Our ethos of reusing, recycling and being as efficient as possible has meant that many of the things we do on the farm are done with the environment in mind. Our tractors use GPS technology, so all land work is carried out in as an efficient manner as possible and we use the water that comes off our farm buildings for using in the farm sprayer. We try to reuse and recycle our bird food packaging wherever possible, with the reuse of cardboard boxes and bird seed bags.