Forward thinking hydro-electric plant and biomass boiler set up wins Royal Welsh award

An impressive small scale hydro-electric plant together with biomass boiler set up for producing power and kiln drying of timber in Gwent has been awarded the 2015 Royal Welsh Agricultural Society’s Farm Buildings and Works Competition.

The competition, confined to farms in Gwent, the feature county at this year’s Royal Welsh Show, sought the farm building throughout the county which best incorporated the farming needs of the 21st century.

Judges, David Henderson MRICS and Colin Pugh FRAgS noted; “All of this year’s entrants were to be congratulated for their careful and thorough planning, attention to detail and commitment to significant capital investment in the future.”

However, it was the effective use of sustainable and renewable resources readily available on the farm combined with the simple, efficient and effective use of existing buildings and facilities which clinched the deal and saw this years Farm Buildings Award given to A J and V N Williams of Hendre Glyn Farm, Upper Llanover, Abergavenny.

The principal farming enterprise at Hendre Glyn Farm is a breeding flock of 800 ewes. The small scale hydro-electric plant, fed by an on-farm stream, produces up to 13kW of power which serves the needs of the farm and biomass plants, with surplus being fed into the National Grid.

The biomass plants comprise of a boiler providing heating for the farmhouse and 95kW boilers for kiln drying timber logs for the domestic heating market. Timber for fuelling the boilers and for kiln drying is sourced from woodland on or near the farm. Ash waste is minimal and is disposed of on the farm and effective control of emissions is seen as an important aspect of the process. The whole operation of drying and storage of timber is housed in clear span steel framed buildings previously used for housing cattle. 

“We were very impressed with the efficient organisation and management of the operation and the effective use of machinery in handling and preparing the timber at all stages of the process. This is an excellent example of the use of renewable and sustainable resources. Plans are in hand to convert an existing stone barn as an educational facility to pass on knowledge of these and similar examples of sustainable technologies.” added the judges.

The winner will be presented with the Peniarth Estate Silver Trowel, given by the late Col J F Williams-Wynne CBE DSO MA FRAgS and a certificate at the Royal Welsh Show.