Loch Duart's hybrid feed barge is now in operation at its Oldany site. Photo: Loch Duart.

Loch Duart switches on first hybrid feed barge

Sutherland and Outer Hebrides salmon farmer Loch Duart is expecting to reduce diesel consumption by 60% at its Oldany site after installing a hybrid-power feed barge at the farm.

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The 300-tonne capacity barge from Norwegian supplier ScaleAQ will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the use of battery power instead of a constant reliance on a diesel generator will mean less noise, the company said in a press release.

Lower loads on the generator mean less maintenance is required, prolonging the lifespan of the equipment.

The vessel is only the second feed barge with hybrid power to be used in Scotland and the first to be built as a hybrid from scratch. Scottish Sea Farms introduced a bespoke hybrid power system aboard one of its feed barges at its Loch Spelve farm on Mull in September 2020 and offset more than 32 tonnes of carbon during a six-month pilot period.

A significant step forward

Loch Duart operations manager Hazel Wade said: “This system represents a significant step forward, reducing our fuel usage and emissions while ensuring quieter operations for the team, our salmon and the local environment.

“The new hybrid feed storage barge also provides enhanced staff welfare facilities for our people working at sea, often in harsh weather conditions. Loch Duart views this development as the beginning of our goal to further reduce the carbon footprint of all our farming operations.”

The hybrid system for feed barges developed by ScaleAQ uses an environmental management system (EMS) to ensure lower levels of diesel consumption and consequently lower emissions of CO₂, nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides.

Calculations show that the CO₂ emissions from the production of the batteries used in Loch Duart’s barge will be earned back after approximately 60 days of use of the hybrid system at sea.

Graham Smith: "We are delighted to have been able to support Loch Duart."

Continuing the theme

Graham Smith, general manager for ScaleAQ’s UK operation, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support Loch Duart in getting the first hybrid powered feed storage barge into Scotland and hope we can continue this theme as the industry works towards reducing its carbon footprint.”

Loch Duart has seen a number of changes and investment since it was bought by sustainability-focused US investor Vision Ridge Partners in February 2020.

These include the opening of its own processing facility at the former Thai Union factory in Dingwall, new branding, and most recently the appointment of former Mowi and Scottish Sea Farms production director Gideon Pringle as operations director in January.

Loch Duart produces around 6,000 tonnes of salmon annually and employs approximately 140 staff.