AN alpaca farm has gone green by generating enough electricity to power and heat the entire property with help from renewable energy company Opus Green.
When Paul and Debbie Rippon bought a plot of land at Elsdon to build their own home and outbuildings for their alpaca and sheep farming business, they decided that they did not want to rely on fossil fuels such as gas or oil to heat their property.
Instead, they decided to design their property so that it was as self-sustainable and eco-friendly as possible and went for renewable energies.
The Rippons moved to the North East in 1996 when Paul joined a bank. He now divides his time between the farm and a portfolio of other business interests.
They have built up Barnacre Alpacas at Raylees over the last five years, breeding and selling award-winning, friendly alpacas and hand-crafted luxury products knitted from their fibre.
After a recommendation, Paul turned to Opus Green for help over their energy.
He said: “Both Debbie and I were impressed with the professional advice Opus Green gave us.
“They were quick to respond and were more interested in providing us with the right technical advice for our development rather than just selling us different renewable systems.”
They originally planned to cover both the farm house and barn roofs with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in order to generate their own electricity but, after advice, they added a ground source heat pump, making money back on every unit of energy that they generated under the Government’s Feed in Tariff scheme for the next 25 years.
This approach ensured the maximum return on their investment, with the planned installations expected to pay for themselves within eight years.
The resulting project involved the installation of 40 solar PV panels, which will provide more than 8,000 units of electricity per year.
The ground source heat pump absorbs heat from the ground, which in turn feeds under-floor heating and also a hot water cylinder in the dwelling, thus eliminating the need for a costly gas or oil supply to the property.
Debbie and Paul said: “We were spending over £2,000 a year on oil heating and electricity at our last house, and so at the new farm we wanted an alternative solution.
“We hate waste and this way we make the most of all the resources available to us.
“We even found a way of using the alpaca dung to create odourless fuel blocks for our heating stove.”
Chris Cassells, managing director of Opus Green, said: “Not only have they made a great investment that will be a source of income for 25 years and will pay for itself in eight years, they have also added value to their property and are helping the environment in the process.”