Gurteen College boasts some great green credentials:
Gurteen College has installed a 50 kilowatt wind turbine beside its main campus. Manufactured in Canada, supplied and constructed by Renewable Energy Systems, the turbine should supply much of the College’s electricity needs. The project was grant aided by Sustainable Energy Ireland and generously co-funded by the Julia Trench Trust.
Other energy efficiency projects are being planned at the moment including biomass fuelled heating systems and use of insulation to reduce fuel use. It is hoped that within 2 years the College will have reduced its total energy usage by at least 50%.
Wood Chip Boilers and Willow
In September 2010 the College installed a totally new heating system, based on two high efficiency wood chip boilers.
15 hectares of willow was planted to provide fuel for the system. To minimise risk of losses due to disease, different varieties of willow were planted in adjacent plots, by autumn 2010 many of the plants had exceeded 2 metres in height.
In February 2011 a new 270 metre sq. drying floor was installed within the farm building complex in readiness for the future harvested chipped willow, which will be reduced to 55% moisture to 25% in the process, the plant also has been of great use drying corn and hay.
It is envisaged that harvesting will be every 2 years if yields are satisfactory.
Spring 2010 saw the planting of 15 hectares of willow to provide fuel for the College heating system. This is part of the Renewable Energy programme being implemented at Gurteen. To minimise the risk of losses due to disease, different varieties of willow were planted in adjacent plots. By the autumn many of the plants had exceeded 2 metres in height. To encourage the production of more shoots, the crop was cut the following Spring. As harvesting in the first year is not economical, the cut shoots are left to recycle their nutrients into the soil. Spray was applied in March 2011 to control weeds.
Solar Photo-Voltaic Panels
Gurteen College has installed 168 panels, totalling 50Kw of nominal power in Autumn 2017. Over the course of a year production of daytime electricity is approximately 45000 Kw of, giving the college a saving of over €8,000 per year on purchased electricity.
All of the artificial light in the college, including the farm, is produced using LED lights and smart sensing technology. Over 1200 light bulbs and fittings were changed. This has given savings of between 25% and 75% (depending on the type of fitting replaced) and will lead to a saving on the electricity bill of over €12,000
Rainwater harvesting and water use
The new milking parlour has innovative systems for water conservation and use. Rainwater from the roof is collected and used to wash down the parlour and surrounding yards, thus saving the cost of extracting this water from the college well.
The initial cooling of the milk is done through a heat exchanger with water. This warmed water is then piped through the nearby classroom to provide background heat. Once the heat has been dissipated, the water is then stored in an underground tank for supplying dairy cow field drinkers.