Agri Heat Pump Specialists – making net zero a reality for farmers  

Due to a downturn in commercial heat pump suppliers, many agricultural heat pump users have been left with frustrating challenges including no support and maintenance for their ageing systems, causing rising costs and operational downtime.

Calibrate Energy Engineering specialise in agricultural heat pumps systems and have noticed a recent increase in new farming customers approaching them for help because their het pump systems need upgrading, were no longer performing optimally and, in some cases, have been switched off.

As a case in point, agriculture has been recorded as contributing around 11% of the UK’s Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, of which an estimated 2% is CO2.  This may appear a low number, but one that translates to roughly 6.4 MtCO2e per year being released into the atmosphere.  Imagine 1,154,401 hot air balloons lined up in the sky containing CO2 and you have a good picture of how vast an amount that is.

To mitigate against this for reasons of cost and conscience, many farmers were swift to adopt sustainable technologies to reduce these harmful emissions, but several years on, they are starting to feel the pain of early adoption as the systems start to age and the pioneering farmers at their helm are feeling frustrated by their altruistic actions.

Help is out there and Calibrate has put together a rescue package to help farmers to get their valuable assets back on track.

In response to these increasing enquiries, Calibrate has revisited its business plan, and decided that not only could the team continue to help agri-businesses to make the switch to renewables through new systems, it also has the skills and capacity to help businesses struggling with obsolete, under-performing or under-specified systems. Taking on other installers’ work is not something to be considered lightly as it can be fraught with problems but given the context and market demand for bringing perfectly serviceable systems back on track, Calibrate has decided to add it as a business service to cover the demand as well as quash the perception that renewables are not the way forward, when it is quite the contrary!

A poultry farmer in Telford recently received the help of the Calibrate team for a 5MW heat pump system that had been installed by another supplier, who had folded. The system was no longer performing as it should and despite receiving £600,000 a year from Ofgem’s RHI tariff, it was still costing the farmer £300,000 a year to run and fast becoming a financial drain. To make things worse, its poor performance reduced its rating below Ofgem standards, jeopardising its six-figure RHI income.

Having fully assessed the system physically and its data remotely, based on readings from in the system using our virtual assessment tool Calibrate Analytics, the team devised a plan of works to maximise performance. Calibrate prides itself on an innovative approach to identifying and fixing problems, and due to this intervention, to the customer’s relief, at a time of high energy prices, they received a return on investment in the first year. This equated to £117,000 electricity cost savings and a reduction of 136 tonnes in CO2, that’s 25 hot air balloons per year!

It has been a similar story with another poultry farming client, who was also wanting to bring an old heat pump back to life.  Calibrate assessed the problem in-hand, the outcome of which was a series of works to increase the coefficient of performance (COP) to within Ofgem standards.  The most significant of the upgrades was 500kW of heat recovery to maximise the efficiency of the system to save money and capture waste energy to re-use it to provide an overall improved outlook of carbon emissions for the site’s environmental standards. The successful project culminated in the client joining the Calibrate service and maintenance plan for future security and peace of mind.

As award winners in the ACR & Heat Pump Awards five years in a row and having received the highest accolade in the Royal Highland Show Technical Innovation Awards, Calibrate continues to demonstrate ground-breaking solutions.  But the business does not sit back on any laurels as the team is aware there are more businesses out there needing support to transition to renewable solutions, or indeed as is the case here, to recover older systems back to their former glory or better.

Calibrate’s original vision was to be a small business packing a punch installing some of the largest heat pump systems in the world, such as its largest award-winning 8.2MW system installation that dries the biggest tonnages of grain in the country with a capacity to heat a small town. However, if older systems from installers that no longer exist aren’t re-invigorated, then the company’s ethical aims and the industry as a whole will be set back.  The new aim is to ensure that re-worked systems are performing well, are highly efficient, that carbon is reduced, more energy is created and that there is a financially viable way to achieve the goals we are all ultimately striving for: spend less and protect the planet.