Balring Farm

Balring Farm
Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire
Featured Technology: 
Biomass has revolutionised the way in which the farm operates - providing cheap heat for drying grain and wood chip
Hamish Watson

In More Detail

Farm Size: 
Balring Farm extends to 325 hectares of arable land and comprises 400 acres of winter barley, 200 acres of spring barley, 100 acres of wheat, and 100 acres of rapeseed. The farm also supports 100 suckler cows and Mr Watson recently purchased a 100 acre wood which is located approximately 2 miles from Balring Farm.
Details of Farmer: 
Hamish Watson
Details of Project: 

The batch boiler was installed in August 2011 for a capital cost of £29,000. This installation received Renewable Heat Incentive tariff payments which currently stand at 5.6 pence per kWh and are index linked. The subsidy was originally secured in July 2011 and is thought to be the first grain dryer in the UK to receive the RHI. Tariff payments in the first year of subsidy support totalled £12,500. The Batch boiler has since been removed and replaced by a 500kW Kalvis woodchip boiler.

Previously Mr Watson was drying grain using an oil fuelled boiler and spending approximately £15,000 on oil annually. With the biomass boiler in place he is now making savings of 6p/kWh, and expects a payback in 2 to 3 years with RHI payments amounting annually to £8,467.


200kW biomass boiler:

The second boiler on the farm is a 200kW Froling wood chip fuelled biomass boiler. This boiler is used to heat 3 houses, a workshop building and the farm power washer, as well as to provide top up heat for the grain dryer.

 The boiler was installed in June 2013 for a £100,000 capital cost which included a cost of £12,000 for the district heat distribution pipe network. The boiler features an automatic fuel feed and ash removal. In addition this boiler is more efficient and as a result has lower emissions to air.

The boiler currently receives the RHI subsidy at a tariff rate of 8.6 pence per kWh. RHI payments of approximately £12,000. In addition, extra income is earned by fuel sales made to two tenanted cottages on the farm.


. He has also installed one of the UK’s only wood gasification systems. This process turns wood into synthetic natural gas leaving behind bio-char as well as producing heat which is eligible for RHI payments. The gas from this system can be stored or it can be run directly through an engine. In Hamish’s case it powers a 500 HP engine that in turn produces electricity that claims FIT payments.

Biomass & Gasification

Hamish Watson – Balring Farm, Mintlaw, Peterhead, AB42 4 JN

This was the second Renewable Development Initiative visit to Hamish Watson’s Balring Farm following on from the success of the first open day.  The day begun with a talk by Hamish on how the projects have developed on his farm and then there will be presentations and workshops from those involved with the biomass system, the drying floors and gasification system.   This was an exciting opportunity to see one of the most innovative farm based renewable energy systems in the country, to meet the designers and installers of the gasification system and to see the plant in operation.

Second visit summary

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Previous Event

16th December 2015
Cronan Farm

Wednesday 16th December

Battery Storage, Solar, Grid Connections, Energy Optimisation and LED lighting