Caithness Wins Major Grant For £3.5 Million District Heating Scheme
15th September 2004
Highland Councillors in Caithness are delighted with the success of a major funding application to promote the first wood-waste fuelled Combined Heat and Power system in Scotland at Wick. The Energy Saving Trust has announced a £1.54 million grant today (Wednesday 16 September 2004) which is fundamental to the success of the £3.5 million first phase of this project. The Council's Caithness Area Committee has agreed to contribute £1.8 million from its Warm and Dry Programme and a bid is being made for £200,000 from the European Regional Development Fund.
It is intended that a biomass fuelled combined heat and power scheme be built at the Old Pulteney malt whisky distillery at Wick to improve energy efficiency at the distillery and provide heat to up to 500 Council houses at Pulteneytown.
Hot water produced at the new plant will be piped into heat exchangers in homes, reducing fuel and maintenance costs.
The business will be run by a not-for-profit community company, which could be set up within a year.
The Highland Council has taken a lead in the scheme and is working in partnership with the distillery and the local community to progress an exciting project, which has many benefits including the promotion of renewable energy.
Councillor Graeme Smith, Chairman of the Council's Planning and Economic Development Committee in Caithness, is delighted with the success of the bid to the Community Energy Programme.
He said: "This is terrific news for Wick and hopefully it will be the catalyst for the project to go ahead. This is so important to Wick because householders and businesses have to bear such high fuel cost as Wick is not connected to the national gas grid. The scheme has the potential to improve energy efficiency, reduce the cost of energy, improve self-sufficiency and sustainability, secure existing industry and establish a renewable industry and supply chain in the Highlands."
He said it was hoped to reduce the heating costs of the average household to around £5 per week.
By combining with the distillery, the scheme will also reduce the operating costs of the distillery and put it on a more sustainable economic basis.
Looking ahead, if the first phase was successful, the Council would wish to expand this scheme to provide electricity as well as heat to about one third of the buildings in the town, including Wick High School.
Other new partners such as the National Health Service for the Caithness General Hospital, as well as private sector buildings such as supermarkets, would be invited to join the operating company, which is being set up to own and manage the scheme.
The scheme had the potential to provide over £2 million of work for installers for the heat networks and housing equipment, and it was intended that a new training scheme for training and accrediting local companies and their personnel would be offered.
There was also scope for a Caithness Community Energy Centre to be established in Wick to not only manage this scheme but also to provide energy efficiency audits and advice to householders and local businesses, as well as advice about the other new renewable energy technologies that could be installed for buildings which may have no opportunity to benefit from district heating owing to their dispersed location.
Councillor Smith added: "Caithness has a substantial forestry resource, with woodfuel estimates of 140,000 tonnes per year for 30 years from 2010, when the forest harvest begins to peak. In the light of this important natural resource, it is hoped to extend this type of locally owned and managed heat and power generating schemes to other parts of Caithness and the Highland Region, and for the Wick scheme to act as a pathfinder."
The lead consultant and designer of this scheme is the well-known engineer Bill Rowe of Integrated Energy Utilities, who designed the Aberdeen City Council District Heating Scheme, which runs on gas.
Councillor Bill Fernie welcomed the announcement as a significant investment in the infrastructure of Wick, "This type of investment will potentially reduce costs to both businesses and private houses as well as reducing the running costs of schools, the hospital and the swimming pool all of which have to be a good thing. It is well rounded project with many benefits and job creation included within the total package as wil be seen as the project rolls out".
Councillor Katrina MacNab whose ward is Pultenytown and whose residents stand to see the initial benefits said "This is another milestone in the way forward for Pultenytown, Wick and ultimately other rural areas to make susbtantial savings in people'e heating costs. It will put Pulteneytown at the forefront of these developments in the Highlands"