The Highland Council is to install its first bio-mass heating system when the existing oil central heating boiler at Dingwall Primary School is replaced with a dual-fuel system which is expected to cut running costs by over £6,000 per annum and save the Council over 93 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
At a meeting of the Council’s Resources Committee, Members agreed that funding from the Council’s Energy Efficiency Investment Fund be used to cover the extra cost of a fitting a dual-fuel heating system in the primary school which will include a wood fuel boiler. Additional funding for the system has come from the Scottish Executive through the SCHRI and CEEF.
This is the latest in a growing number of biomass heating schemes to be installed in Ross and Cromarty. The Averon Leisure Centre in Alness switched to a similar system in 2004 and more recently the Forestry Commission installed a wood fuel boiler at its Dingwall offices.
Chairman of The Highland Council’s Sustainable Development Committee, Councillor Ian Ross said: “The Highland Council is committed to reducing energy costs and making greater use of renewable energy technology. By introducing a duel-fuel heating system at Dingwall Primary School we are helping to establish and support a new market for lower emission technologies in the Highlands. Wood fuel is increasingly seen as a cheaper source of heat than oil and if we are able to contribute to the creation of a cluster of premises in the Highlands using biomass, this will make the supply and delivery of wood chips even more economical and widely available.”
Local Councillor Michael MacMillan was pleased that Dingwal Primary School was going to be the first in the Highlands to use any type of biomass heating system. He said: “I am very much in favour of using alternative energy, especially when market forecasts are predictining a 25% rise in heating oil prices within the next couple of years. Woodchip can be in plentiful supply in the area and local businesses will be the obvious suppliers because of the bulk of the fuel when compared with oil.
“Once the system is up and running I shall encourage the Head Teacher and his staff to interest the pupils in this particular application of renewable energy. The Highland Council staff who have put effort into this project will, I’m sure, not require much encouragement to come to the school to give talks and demonstrations.”
“Education Minister Peter Peacock will be shown plans for the new system when he pays a visit to the school in September.”
Notes for Editors
• The Highland Council has an Energy Management Performance Plan which has targets to reduce energy use by 15%, save £3.8M in energy costs, reduce carbon emissions by a minimum of 15% and increase the installed capacity of renewable energy equipment by a minimum of 4,000kW by 2010. The Plan also lays down the Council’s aims to reduce its dependency on imported electricity and fuel.
• Biomass energy is created by harvesting organic matter, such as wood or special 'energy crops', and converting it into heat, electricity or transport fuel. The conversion processes used include combustion, anaerobic digestion and fermentation. Trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide as they grow. So when energy is generated from biomass there is no net addition of carbon dioxide so long as the biomass is regrown.
• The extensive and mature forests in many parts of the Highlands and Islands offers a significant opportunity to maximise the potential of biomass energy - an alternative energy technology widely used elsewhere in Europe, particularly Scandinavia. As a carbon neutral process, biomass energy generation will play an important role in reducing climate-changing greenhouse gases in the UK. As well as using wood, biomass energy can also be created using other types of fuel, including grasses, willow, seed crops, and even by-products from industries such as food and drink and agriculture.