The creation of one of Europe’s greenest and most ambitious refrigeration systems is underway at an Aberdeenshire family farm.
Mackie’s of Scotland is heralding the arrival of the first parts of its £4.5m project that will increase and improve its ice cream production facility and reduce its carbon footprint – as it bids to become the greenest company in Britain.
The state-of-the-art project is being brought to life after Mackie’s secured £2.05m from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme.
The Scottish Government support, part-funded by the 2014-2020 European Regional Development Fund programme, will be matched by a significant investment of more than £2.5m by Mackie’s. It is targeting ambitious CO2 savings of up to 80% and energy costs of 70-80%.
With just two similar systems across the UK, once it is operational later this year, it will be the first of its kind in Scotland.
Mac Mackie, managing director with Mackie’s, said: “This freezer can be the final piece in the jigsaw to our farm becoming entirely self-sufficient in renewable energy.
“With our solar farm, wind turbines and existing biomass system powering 70% of our annual energy needs, the next stage was to look at ways of slashing our energy requirements.
“We first set out on the journey towards this refrigeration back in 2018 – and are grateful that the support from the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund will enable us to make this happen. It should create an exemplar low-carbon refrigeration plant for Scotland.”
Unlike some systems that use environmentally damaging HCFC gases, Mackie’s new system will run on ammonia, powered by hot-water from a large biomass boiler that, through an absorption chiller, will cool to -15C with minimal electrical input. Where necessary, conventional refrigeration compressors will reduce the temperature further to -30C .
The system will provide the temperatures needed at all stages of the production of Mackie’s famous ice cream as well as delivering carbon and electricity savings.
The resultant quicker and colder way to freeze ice cream will bring further benefits to the business, improving the quality of the ice cream while helping it to increase production to meet its growing demand.
Mac added: “This is a truly exciting development for us. Being able to produce more, higher quality ice cream is just another bonus resulting from our investment in further green technology.”
Mackie’s already produces more than 10m litres of ice cream every year. Its renewable energy is derived from four wind turbines that produce 8500 MWh of electricity each year and its 7000 panel solar farm, once the largest in Scotland.