A NEW wood chip boiler has been installed at a community heating project in Wick as part of a £2.5 million investment by Ignis Biomass Ltd.
That was confirmed yesterday by company director Craig Ibbetson who said the 3.5 megawatt boiler is the first step in a bid to expand the scheme.
He added the company is providing renewable energy to Pulteney Distillery in addition to supplying the district heating network.
“The district heating scheme supplies nearly 200 homes with affordable, renewable energy. Our agreement to supply steam to Pulteney Distillery is a major part of the development plan that will allow us to expand the coverage of the scheme and we expect to add new customers during 2013,” said Mr Ibbetson.
The new boiler was installed at the company’s energy centre near the distillery just before Christmas. The system then underwent tests and procedures before taking over from the previous oil-fired boiler.
“The new boiler is the first step in our plan to increase the supply of affordable and sustainable energy to homes and businesses in Wick,” said Mr Ibbetson, who pointed out the company is holding discussions with several organisations about getting involved in the heating scheme.
The company sources its wood from forests in Caithness – a move which Mr Ibbetson said will help create and secure jobs in the Highlands.
He said Ignis will soon begin installing smart meters to enable customers to manage their heat use better.
“We are conscious that for many of our customers the cost of heating is a significant expense and Ignis is committed to ensuring the district heating scheme remains the lowest cost means of heating available in Wick,” he stated.
Martin Leonard, operations director of Inver House Distillers, said the new biomass boiler provides a source of renewable energy for the distillery.
“It will assist in achieving our environmental objectives by reducing our use of fossil fuels. We are pleased to be working with Ignis, helping them build a business in Wick based upon a sustainable supply of energy,” he said.
Roselyn MacDonald, who lives in Murchison Street with her husband James, is an Ignis customer and is pleased with the heating scheme.
She told the Caithness Courier yesterday there were some “teething problems” with the new system while tests were being conducted but said they have been resolved.
“We are very happy with the system. Everything is going well. In fact, at times it is too hot and we have to turn the heating down,” she said.
Mr Ibbetson admitted the changeover to the new system was lengthier than anticipated.
“The work took slightly longer than we desired but we planned for these circumstances so it is not something which has caused us any great surprise or problem,” he said.
The company took over the project from Highland Council last year and pledged to change the heating system from oil to wood chip fuel.