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Caithness News Bulletins October 2004
The Highland Council gave the go ahead on Thursday 28 October 2004 for arrangements to be made to establish a not for profit company to implement and manage a biomass district heating system to serve Pulteneytown, Wick.
The Council will participate in the formation of the dedicated company which would deliver, own and manage the proposed system to ensure with compliance with appropriate legal, financial and contractual requirements.
Nominations for members to serve as Directors will be delegated to the Caithness Area committee of the Council.
The Council will also guarantee a contribution of £200,000 per year for 10 years from its Housing 'Warm and Dry' budget.
The proposal is to harness waste heat from the Old Pulteneytown Distillery and distribute this by insulated pipe network to 400 ~ 500 local council houses in the immediate area.
The first phase of the development involves new waste heat recovery and wood-fuelled generation plant located within the distillery complex.
The projected costs are £3.56 million. A successful bid has been made by the Council for £1.54 million grant through the Government's Community Energy Programme.
Councillor Graeme Smith, Caithness~ spokesman on planning and development said: "This is an exciting innovative scheme which promises to deliver much cheaper fuel bills for people living in Pulteneytown.
Councillor Katrina MacNab is particularly pleased that the development which may eventually taken in the whole of Caithness is starting in Pulteneytown She said, "This project will reduce heating costs for people in the area and as we live in an area where temperatures are lower for a much greater part of the year this willbe of great benefit to the area.
Councillor Bill Fernie said, "This is just the sort of rounded project combining the creation of a few jobs with reductions in heating costs that wick needs. It will hopefully be the flagship for other projects of a similar nature over the rest of Caithness in coming years. Not only does it include the homes of local people but should see reductions in operating costs of heating the swimming pool, schools and reduce costs of the Pulteneytown Distillery who are working with the council on this project."
"It combines energy saving measures with affordable heating from renewable sources."
The Councilís 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 Councilís 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.