The University of Aberdeen has joined forces with one of Scotland's largest agricultural cooperatives in a new venture that could help farmers produce their own clean, green energy on a mass scale.
The Business and Engineering Schools have entered into a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) with ANM Group which will see the creation of a new renewable energy consultancy division to advise farmers and other agricultural enterprises on sustainable energy solutions.
The two-year partnership, funded through a UK Government grant valued at around £250,000, will also explore the potential for delivering a range of agricultural technology solutions to market.
This could include development of a micro wind turbine that is small enough to be erected easily on existing farmland or buildings but powerful enough to generate the energy used on day-to-day activities and contribute to the national grid.
KTP’s help business to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK’s academic knowledge base. This is the second collaboration between the Business School and ANM Group.
The University opened its Centre for Energy Transition in May this year and this latest agreement is part of its commitment to playing a role as a research and innovation leader in the Scottish renewables industry.
Adam Smith, Director of Resources at the Business School, said: “This partnership has the potential to position ANM Group as a national provider of renewable energy solutions, with farmers and other agricultural businesses able to contribute on a much larger scale to Scotland’s sustainable energy supply than was previously possible.
“Our strategy to partner with industry has been key to our success. We have watched other UK business school’s student numbers decline due to impact of Brexit and the pandemic whilst we doubled in size over the last five years. We’re delighted that our partnership strategy and expertise in the sector has been recognised by the Group and that we can play such a hands-on role in helping the agricultural industry and individual farmers – regardless of acreage – play a part in Scotland’s clean, green energy future.”
The ANM Group, founded in 1872 by pioneering farmers, is today one of the most dynamic, progressive and forward-looking businesses serving the UK farming, commercial and industrial sectors. It has led the development of modern auction centres by the pioneering of electronic and video auctions - developed in a previous KTP with the Business School.
Grant Rogerson, chief executive of ANM Group, said: “As a cooperative we value working with the University of Aberdeen and by entering this partnership, ANM Group can gain expertise and technology to help the agricultural sector continue its journey to achieve net-zero.
“This joint venture has the capability to position ANM as a leading provider of sustainable solutions within the farming community. We hope to provide invaluable advice and knowledge to our members and customers which will set us ahead as we celebrate our 150th anniversary in 2022. As a group we strive to protect the future of our sector and engage with younger generations, therefore this project has landed at a key time as we look towards the future of our industry.”
Dr Alireza Maheri, the School of Engineering's Champion in Energy Transition, said: "This partnership provides us with an excellent opportunity to expand the impact of our research in distributed hybrid renewable energy systems and the ANM Group to play its role in meeting the Scotland’s net-zero targets through a fair energy transition."
The KTP will see a University graduate work full time onsite at ANM Group’s Thainstone base in Aberdeenshire from early this year. Dependent on trials, the project could potentially see micro-turbines go into production as early as 2023.