Auchencheyne - Micro hydro and sustainable contruction

Mary and Neil Gourlay at Auchencheyne. After an overview of the farm enterprise, Neil took the group to see the eco-house build that was currently underway. Neil noted that he is being as eco-friendly as possible in the construction of the house, as was including measures such as ground source and solar thermal water heating, biomass heating and rainwater harvesting. An example of Neil’s commitment to sustainability was demonstrated in the use of wool from sheep on the farm to provide insulation in the house. Neil estimated that he had about £28,000 worth of insulation for a total cost of £7,500 for the raw material and treatment costs to make the wool into workable sheets of insulation.

Following the visit to the eco house construction, the group looked at one of his micro hydro systems. Neil has two micro hydro schemes on his land; an 11kW system fed from a reinstated Victorian lake and the 12kW system fed by a hill tributary at the home farm which the group visited. Although costing around £70,000, there is an attractive payback period of under three years, making this scheme an excellent investment for the farm. Utilising energy from the micro hydro has also cut oil bills in the farmhouse from £5,000 to nearer £2,000 per year.