At Gurteen College, students who participate in both farming and equine courses are now being offered a module on bioenergy. The College uses their recent positive experiences with their new wood to heat solution to provide this unique teaching experience. Key to the College`s success is the integration of growing energy crops with a modern professional dairy farm thus proving that food production and energy production can be synergistic and not in competition with one another. The College`s objective is to reduce its cost, its reliance on fossil fuels, its carbon footprint, while also helping to reduce the environmental footprint of food production.
In 2010 the College made a decision to plant 80 acres of short rotation willow coppice, install two 300 kW KWB wood chip boilers, a wood chip drying system upgrade their district heating system and improve the insulation in some of their buildings. As a direct result the College has reduced their potential oil bill from a € 100,000 to € 40,000 by using local wood chip. The Principal Mike Pearson, believes that he will further reduce this to € 20,000 when he switches to using the willow wood chip grown on the College`s farm. These savings are just one of the advantages: “It was important to us to invest in an environmental friendly heating system, which shows our 250 students the working solution and how it’s worth investing in such future proved and innovated solution”, says a proud Mike Pearson.
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