When the wind don’t blow, and hydro won’t flow, solar power is solution to the Flying Farmer’s green power needs

The ‘Flying Farmer’ – John Mckenzie
The ‘Flying Farmer’ – John Mckenzie

A Highlands eco-farmer, entrepreneur and pilot from Dingwall, is taking green business to new heights thanks to funding from Resource Efficient Scotland’s SME loan scheme.

John Mckenzie – also known as ‘the Flying Farmer’ – owns the Glen Wyvis Distillery and farm and last year he applied for loan of £25,000 to add extra capacity to his solar panel electricity system. 

With equal interest in farming and renewable energy, Mckenzie has been using his own farm to work on a number of projects promoting local energy production and saving. The result is a farm which harnesses wind, rain and sun for energy use.

On the site, he has a hydro scheme, a wind turbine, solar panels, a biomass boiler – and he drives an electric vehicle.  He said:  

“GlenWyvis aims to be the first locally-owned 100% carbon neutral distillery in Scotland and to further spread the understanding of modern renewable energy in this country.

 “Our recent study showed we were short of energy potential in the summer when wind and hydro are at their lowest in terms of generation, therefore installing additional solar power via the SME loan fund was a great option for the business.

“The cost saving of the additional solar panel is £3,300 per year with a 10-year payback. However the saving is just part of the story as it is our aim is to become 100% green, but so far this has proved to be quite challenging.

“We are at around 95% at present and are currently looking at a feasibility study to install a battery to store our excess energy when we don’t need it, that way we can use it when we do.

Solar farm at Glen Wyvis farm
Solar farm at Glen Wyvis farm, near Dingwall.

“As a green energy and active farm site that operates 365 days, the loan to purchase another solar PV has added further savings to the business and is another important measure to help us reach our 100% green goal.”

An ex-Army Air Corps and Canadian Air Force pilot, Mckenzie has enjoyed an exciting career which has even included chauffeuring then Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond in his helicopter during the Independence Referendum campaign.

Funded by the Scottish Government, the scheme aims to support businesses that are looking to reduce costs through improved energy, material resource and water efficiency. Loans of £1,000 to £100,000 are available to help businesses to reduce their carbon emissions, save money and increase their competitiveness.

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