Taking sustainability to new levels

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Guests at Tredethick Farm Cottages, near Lostwithiel, are now enjoying eco-friendly heating courtesy of a 200kW biomass boiler fuelled by Elephant Grass.

Miscanthus, or elephant grass as it is more commonly known

The new boiler, which replaces ten old oil boilers, provides heat for eight holiday cottages, a swimming pool, the farmhouse and owner Tim Reed’s own house.

The eco-friendliness of the new system is increased through the use of Miscanthus, nicknamed Elephant Grass, as its fuel. Miscanthus is native to Africa and South America and has been used as a biofuel in Europe since the 1980s.The plant is carbon neutral as it produces energy derived from the sun via photosynthesis.

Reed is currently buying in his supply of Miscanthus but is planting his first crop this year and hopes to be self-sufficient within the next three years. Once mature, the crop will last for up to 25 years, without the need for fertilizer.

In addition, Reed is applying for payments through the Government’s commercial Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. When this goes through, he says the holiday business at Tredethick could potentially earn over £15k a year from the RHI, and save on fuel costs by up to £7k through switching from oil to Miscanthus.

He said: “20 years ago we started diversifying the family farming business by creating a holiday complex. We put in a wind turbine two years ago to provide 20% of our electricity, added solar PV six months ago to provide another 30% of electricity and now we have our district heating system.

“With 50% of our electricity and all of our heating and hot water now available through renewable energy, we are well on the way to realizing our goals of being environmentally friendly, achieving economic security and becoming self-sufficient.”

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