Copys Green Farm, Norfolk
Sponsored by Marks & Spencer
It may sound like a cliché, but Stephen Temple and his wife Catherine really do live and breathe green energy, whether it’s generating it or saving it. They’re certainly not Johnny-come-latelys to the renewable energy sphere either, with Stephen working on cutting farm energy use in Africa back in the 1970s.
Now the 230ha family farm near Wells-Next-the-Sea in north Norfolk, with its mixed arable and dairy business plus cheesemaking enterprise, has become a place where energy-saving ideas really do get put into practice.
First off, in 2003, when the boiler that heated the large and draughty farmhouse spluttered to the end of its life, they installed a biomass boiler that ran on woodchip and spoiled grain. They then hooked it up to provide hot water for the milking parlour, thereby saving £750 of electricity.
That same year Stephen also turned his attention to the grainstore. Here, the annual £5000 bill for LPG was slashed by installing a round-bale fired boiler and giant radiator to provide hot air, for which he designed a control system now available commercially. Annual fuel use dropped to just £400.
Three years later they installed a second, smaller boiler to give all-year-round hot water for the cheesemaking enterprise.
But the biggest project to date is the farm’s anaerobic digester. Work began in 2008 and finished in early 2009 at a total cost of some £750,000 – sadly a £100,000 bioenergy capital grant had to be turned down.
The plant uses slurry from the farm’s cows, plus maize silage, fodder beet and whey from the cheesemaking to make methane. This in turn powers a 140kW combined heat and power unit, which sends electricity to the grid and hot water and heat to the dairy, cheesemaking business and farmhouse. It also warms the cows’ drinking water, powers the grain dryer and will soon supply nearby houses.
They keep their own personal energy consumption down too, for example by running two small diesel cars with 60mpg-plus. Low-energy bulbs have been fitted throughout, a variable-speed vacuum pump cuts milking costs and tractor fuel consumption is carefully monitored.
They’re great ambassadors for the green energy movement, spreading the message to visitors on Open Farm Sunday and Farmhouse Breakfast Week, as well as welcoming an almost endless queue of curious visitors fascinated by the achievements of this Norfolk couple.
• 230ha arable and dairy farm
• Anaerobic digester plus combined heat and power unit
• Biomass boilers
• Cheesemaking enterprise
WHY HE WON
• Enthusiasm for saving energy
• Engineering knowledge to make pioneering systems work
• Low personal energy costs – 60mpg cars
• Happy to involve other farmers
Like many of the best agricultural engineers, Stephen is always looking for improvements and is not afraid to ‘tweak’ machinery until it gives him what he wants
Stephen’s quest to avoid wasting fuel and power, his ability to integrate renewable energy systems into the farm and his sheer enthusiasm made him a worthy winner of the Green Energy Farmer of the Year.
• John Strawson
• Manor House Farm, Nottinghamshire
John has created a unique model for the production of biomass from willow coppice in the UK and his success illustrates energy crops can be a profitable addition to a farm enterprise
• Adam Twine
• Colleymore Farm, Wiltshire
Wind turbines continue to divide opinion, but Adam has combined his campaigning experience, his environmental awareness and his desire to include the local community to deliver sustainable local energy production