New Business captures Bodmin Moor’s EnergyJuly 9th, 2010 by Barry Potier
2 entrepreneurial businessmen with a passion for the environment have joined forces to start a new renewable business in Cornwall.
Rupert Hanbury-Tenison & Robert Stirling are the creators of Moor Heat Ltd; a diverse business utilising the surrounding countryside and providing energy through a range of disciplines including biomass, PV, geothermal and hydro power.
Rupert has been involved in heath land management for 15 years after taking on part of the moor as an incorporation of his family farm. He is a director of ‘Branch Out Tree Maintenance’ that undertakes tree, moorland and river maintenance across the spectacular Bodmin Moors.
Their research into Moor Heat began when they started to look into the benefits of the South West Uplands to the public; Rupert went on to explain;
“To my mind, the moorlands have some important benefits to the public, and we need to capture these things which include carbon storage from the peat, which can be stored at a rate of approximately 80 tonnes per Hectare per year. If the peat is burned, it can be instantly released at up to 120 tonnes of carbon per hectare. The South West Uplands provide 95% of the drinking water for the South West and naturally filters through the moors. With landscape and historical value being so apparent in this area of the country, this makes Bodmin Moor an area of diverse focus & a key prospect for renewable energy”
Nature & climate has also contributed to some problems that the Moor faces including warmer winters and the hybridisation of alien European Gorse with the native Western Heath Gorse. This monoculture suppresses other native vegetation and grasses which in turn is causing rainfall to runoff into the rivers, causing erosion.
A more severe problem that Cornwall as a county are experiencing is the rapidly spreading deadly disease Phytopthora Ramorum (Sudden Oak Death) this disease, caused through infected Rhododendron could cause the decimation of thousands of hectares of commercial forest and native woodland.
This is the catalyst for the creation of Moor Heat and having researched the technology and the resources, Rupert & Robert have invested in specialist equipment to selectively remove up to 1 Hectare of Gorse & Rhododendron per day. This specialist farming process means that individual plants can be removed whilst protecting and retaining other species. The useable biomass is then taken to their on-farm plant where it is converted into a sustainable fuel source for the domestic & commercial market.
The machinery used to produce this fuel source runs on bio-oil and bio-diesel, making the end product carbon neutral. Moor Heat have been responsible in every way by consulting closely with Natural England by receiving written approval from them, the local community and have already been visited by 2 local MP’s.
With such a specialist approach to renewable energy, I asked whether they have had any obstacles to overcome, Rupert explained;
“The largest problem we are facing is the conversion of very wet feedstock (70%+) into a suitable feedstock to make into briquettes (10%). We are currently looking to utilise a disused tin mine for geothermal energy to dry the feedstock an also small scale CHP Production (up to 1MW) to both aid drying and to produce electricity to run machinery. We have a planning application with Cornwall Council for the installation of the drying equipment and briquetting plant.”
So what next for the dynamic environmental duo?
“We also have the infrastructure in place to house the operation and have planning permission to install a 20KW wind turbine to provide a sustainable power source. We have undertaken a considerable amount of research into PV and have identified a joint usage area to install 2 hectares of solar PV producing up to 500 KW/h per hectare.”
Rupert & Robert have really demonstrated the importance of supporting local initiatives whilst protecting our countryside, they have a scalable business plan and success with this is inevitable. We wish them every success in their business.
For more information on Moor Heat Ltd, please contact Rupert on 01579 320203.
Their website www.moor-heat.co.uk is yet to go live.
To view their entry on the Barclays Take One Small Step Competition, please click on this link https://www.takeonesmallstep.co.uk/Entry/Search