Ice cream maker Mackie’s of Scotland is hoping to secure a sustainable business scoop by transforming the slurry from its 400 strong herd of cows into biofuel to help power its Aberdeenshire plant.

The move to install a 250KW anaerobic digestion plant at the firm’s dairy farm in Westertown, Rothienorman, would help save the company up to £300,000 in fuel costs and help it move towards using only renewable energy.

Under the plans – currently being devised with scientists at Edinburgh Napier University’s Biofuel Business Programme BBP – thousands of tonnes of slurry would be used to generate methane biogas, which would then be turned into electricity and heat, at the same time as producing a more concentrated fertiliser from the distillate.

Mackie’s first began using renewable energy in 2005 by introducing an 800KW wind turbine to supply electricity to the farm.  Two 800KW turbines were added in 2007 and solar panels were installed earlier this year.

“The benefit would be an on-demand renewable energy source where we could run the AD engine and produce electricity where we need it,” said Mackie’s finance director Gerry Stephens. “This would complement our existing renewable energy sources.”

Prof Martin Tangney, director of the Biofuel Research Centre at Edinburgh Napier University added: “Mackie’s is a fantastic example of a company looking across the board to cut its carbon footprint and strive towards self-sufficiency for energy.”