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Slashing costs with bio-fuel

A plant nursery has found an environmental way of beating crippling oil prices that were pushing production costs sky high — turning to bio-fuel.

Ravensworth Nurseries was spending as much as £1000 a week on oil to heat its greenhouses but has now turned to using a boiler fuelled by woodchip, which should lower costs drastically.

The new boiler needed woodchip less than two inches in size, so the nursery has also bought its own wood shredder, and uses wood waste given “for nothing” by local pallet firms and demolition sites.

Ravensworth Nursery partner Jonathan Bradbrook said the shredder, which has been in operation for two weeks, was a “huge investment” but one that should pay for itself over the next four years. He anticipates burning about 1,000 tonnes of woodchip a year, and said 30 tonnes was used in the first week alone.

The wood shredder bought was a Bandit 3680 Beast Recycler, which Bradbrook said was one of the only ones that could make chips of the required size. BE Recycling who provided the shredder feels it has come up with the “ideal heating solution” and has suggested reducing costs further by charging a gate fee for wood waste received.

Another operation that has introduced the use of bio-fuel recently is Mossborough Hall in Merseyside. The mixed use farm now houses the first full commercial plant by biomass gasifier company, Biomass Engineering.

The new technology will allow Mossborough Hall’s owner, Will Heyes, to make use of a variety of wastes from wood and straw to animal by-products and mammalian bone meal. Heyes said it was “an excellent, hassle free way to diversify” and expects to see a return on his investment in three to five years, helped by selling his excess energy to Green Energy UK.

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