Willow has been harvested in Aberdeenshire and will soon be used to generate renewable heat in the newly-fired up Biomass Energy Centre at the Hill of Banchory.
Banchory-based renewable energy specialists Jigsaw Energy worked closely with the Leys Estate to plant the UK’s most northerly crop of Short Rotation Coppice Willow four years ago. The crop is just a few miles from the Hill of Banchory Biomass Energy Centre.
The first seven Hectares of the 30 Ha crop, were harvested using special harvesting machinery. The willow is then dried at the Energy Centre before being used to fuel the biomass boiler later this year.
Guy Milligan, Energy Development Manage, said: “We planted the willow in 2008 when the plans for the Biomass Energy Centre were in the early stages.
“After the first year, the crop is cut back to ground level to encourage coppicing. The willow is then cut every three years for the next 20 years. The amount of willow harvested this year is roughly the equivalent of heating around 50 homes for a year.
“The fact that we grow our own willow to create heat for homes in the area means we have complete sustainability of supply. We will also buy woodchip from a local sawmill, further supporting the local economy.”
The Biomass Boilers were fired up for the first time this week. The Biomass Energy Centre is currently in the final stages of commissioning and will be operational later this month. It will eventually supply over 600 homes, a leisure centre with swimming pool, care home, hotel and businesses.