The new barge, now at work at Lismore West, Argyll, will improve energy efficiency while also reducing environmental emissions.
The company also recently acquired its first hybrid workboat, the Laurence Knight, and both this and the new barge mark the company’s commitment to greener solutions.
Scottish Sea Farms’ Regional Director for the Mainland, Innes Weir, said the barge represented a significant step forward in terms of cutting waste and saving costs.
‘With a hybrid system, the diesel generator can be run more efficiently but not as often. And because you’re relying on the batteries to supply 50 to 70 per cent of the power, you reduce wear and tear on the engine and so make savings on maintenance and servicing.’
Fuel savings are estimated at between 20 and 45 per cent, with generator maintenance costs around 75 per cent lower over three years.
The hybrid power system switches automatically between batteries and generator, once programmed, and can be managed remotely and monitored in real-time.
‘The generator can recharge the batteries which, once sufficiently charged, are big enough to run the feeding system and then the generator will switch off,’ said Weir.
‘As you go through the day, you’ll find the generator will be on for some of the time and then it will be batteries, and as the batteries discharge, the generator will come back on while the batteries are recharged.’
The 200-tonne, £1 million-plus barge was developed by Norwegian aquaculture supplier Scale AQ and built in Poland. It combines a fully recyclable 150kW lithium-ion hybrid battery system with a diesel engine powered generator.
Lismore West Farm Manager Alasdair MacAulay said day-to-day operations would become much easier, with all the barge functions, including the batteries (87 in total), fuel pumps and feeding system, controlled online.
‘All we have to do is go on our tablets to keep account of how much feed is in the silos and how much we’re using,’ he said.
‘We’ve also got cameras downstairs so if there are any issues we can see them from upstairs, and there’s an overhead camera on the barge that can oversee all the pens.
‘Even if we can’t get out to the farm, we can see if the feed pipes are connected properly and haven’t been damaged by bad weather, so it’s really good for health and safety too.’
And with the battery capacity large enough to run underwater lights throughout the night, as well as other low wattage functions, there will be no demand for an overnight generator, reducing noise as well as the barge’s carbon footprint.