Alex Fowlie - What Role Can Land Managers Play in the Emerging Energy Sector
My name is Alex Fowlie, I am from Aberdeenshire where my family have farmed for several generations.
I am very passionate about agricultural particularly beef cattle and ambitious to farm in my own right however on leaving university I wanted to broaden my knowledge and was fortunate that this coincided with a local agricultural business diversifying into wind energy and managed to get a job as a project manager with their business Muirden Energy. I recently became a partner in the business which has grown to employ a highly skilled team of 9 people and now develop sites across Scotland. To date we have built 16MWs of wind turbine sites in Aberdeenshrie with a further 20MWs consented and are currently working on planning for over 100MWs with the focus now on larger projects.
We are constantly looking at new opportunities and have a small solar system on our office roof and are actively looking at Biomass as an alternative heating source for the farming businesses poultry sheds.
My Scholarship is sponsored by the Royal Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland and I am extremely grateful for their support. I aim to explore the successes and failures of current on farm energy production from Wind, Biomass and Anaerobic Digestion, and how these opportunities can be maximised going forward.
My Nuffield study topic is "On Farm Renewables: Boom or Bust?"
I have chosen this as I feel on farm renewable energy generation represents a massive opportunity for farmers to increase profitability and expand their business however it also has risks and pitfalls which need to be considered.
I want to explore what the key ingredients to successful developments are and what the issues have been on projects which have not succeeded from speaking to people who have been there and done it. Through this I aim to have a clear understanding on what the next steps should be for farmers looking to diversify into renewable energy or continue expansion in this sector.
My Scholarship will see me travel to Australia, Germany, Spain and The USA and meet farmers, businessmen and bankers who have made it or lost it in this sector.