Seskin Farm, South Tipperary, Ireland


Starting point and idea

Ireland’s oil consumption has risen rapidly as a result of economic growth and now ranks third in the EU in terms of oil consumed per capita. In 2004, almost 97% of the national primary energy requirement was supplied by the combustion of non-renewable fuels. The Irish Government has stated that it is committed to taking mitigating measures to achieve greater fuel diversity and to take action on energy efficiency and demand management. The “Bioenergy Action Plan for Ireland”, published on 4th March 2007, set out an integrated strategy for electricity, transport, heat, agriculture, enterprise and environment sectors. Seskin Farm is located near Clonmel in the South East of Ireland and is owned by Jack O’Donnell, who operates a large commercial piggery on the site. The piggery uses a significant volume of hot water for individual heaters to keep litters of piglets warm during the first months of growth. Hot water is required 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Not only was Jack O’Donnell facing increased heating costs with the rise in oil prices, but he was also unable to predict heating costs for the coming year with any degree of certainty, making it more difficult to run his business. A desire to deliver a heating solution that was cost effective, environmentally friendly, robust and stable lead Jack O’Donnell to consider switching to a wood-fuelled heating system. Following an analysis of the financial savings and the financial support available for woodchip boilers, Jack O’Donnell made the decision to change to a renewable heating system – woodchip boiler. 50% of the system cost was financed with a grant.

Success through cooperation

The example of Seskin Farm has shown that by analysing your current situation and availing of the grant assistance available you are not only reducing your energy costs but also you have the ability to predict your energy costs for the future. You will also have a positive impact on the Region and sustainable local rural development in terms of chip production and supply is being supported. It is also helping to reduce Ireland’s reliance on non-secure imported fossil fuels. Biomass has many advantages over conventional energy sources, as well as over some other renewable energies, in particular, relatively low costs, less dependence on shortterm weather changes, promotion of regional economic structures and provision of alternative sources of income for farmers. Working with a company called “Clearpower”, the design of an optimal wood system was achieved for the farm. Clearpower delivers the proven benefits of sustainable, CO2 neutral wood energy to enterprise and Government clients seeking cost effective, stable low maintenance solutions.

How does it work?

The new system installed is a fully automated 75 kW HSK RA Heizomat boiler and fuel feed system, with fully automated fuel feed, ignition, de-ashing and heat exchanger cleaning. The boiler is fuelled on dry wood chip, produced and delivered locally. The fuel store was sized to provide enough fuel for a month’s operation and includes rotating spring loaded arms that drag the wood chip towards the auger which conveys the fuel and deposits it in a drop cell/ zone before it is metered to the burner. The rate of fuel transfer is controlled by monitoring combustion to maintain correct fuel/air ratio.


Prior to this project, the oil fired boilers delivered the hot water and had an annual fuel consumption of 9,600 gallons of oil (43,642 litres), equivalent to 460,48 kWh. At € 0.60 per litre, this gave a heating cost per annum of € 26,19. Not only has the facility achieved 80% reduction in heating costs, it has also achieved an annual CO2 saving of 51 tonnes. With the grant support, payback on the investment in the system is less than 1 year. In switching from oil to wood, Seskin Farm is contributing to Ireland’s efforts to reduce CO2 emissions under the Kyoto Agreement. In the case of oil, this amounts to 264 g CO2/kWh of fuel. The installed 75 kW boiler is delivering a carbon saving of 51.89 tonnes of CO2 per annum (at time of installation). Other emissions such as SOx and CO are also reduced. Seskin Farm is supporting sustainable local rural development in terms of chip production and supply and is helping reduce Ireland’s reliance on non-secure imported fuels.


“Seeing is Believing” is the best way to show the potential of the woodchip boiler, its operation and installing. Visits can be organised to Seskin Farm to view this installation from start to finish.


Jack O’Donnell
Seskin Farm,
Kilsheelan, Clonmel,
Co. Tipperary, Ireland
+353 (0)52 33275,
+353 (0)87 9484605


  • Commercial piggery with hot water demand 24 hours, 365 days
  • Switch from oil to 75 kW wood chip boiler
  • 80 % reduction of heating costs
  • Annual CO2 savings of 51 tons
  • Payback within one year

Downlaod Regional Bioenergy Action Plan


Success Story provided by REGBIE+ partner