Wick District Heating Scheme

Caithness Heat and Power Ltd, which is promoting an innovative wood-fired combined heat and power system centred on the Pulteneytown distillery at Wick, is delighted to announce the appointment of the John Thurso M.P. as the Patron to this important community owned enterprise.

At the same time, the company is happy to announce the appointment of the new site construction manager for this project, Mr Joseph McVey. Mr McVey has lived in Caithness for 8 years where he has been a senior project manager at Dounreay. He has a wide experience as a construction manager for major engineering projects.

The award of the contract for the installation of the heat network system is expected within the next two weeks, and further tenders will be undertaken later in July and August for plant and machinery for this important scheme.

These developments come hard on the heels of the announcement by the Minister of State for Climate Change and the Environment, Elliot Morley MP on behalf of the Community Energy Programme that the project is to receive a further £1.38 million of grant funding which will allow the company to generate up to 2.5 Megawatts of electricity – which represents half the electricity demand of Wick.

These new green energy developments coincide with the day that climate change is being discussed at the G8 Summit at Gleneagles.

Highland Councillor Graeme Smith, who is the Chairman of Caithness Heat and Power Limited, the community owned company established in December 2004 to own and manage the scheme, said: "We are delighted with the progress we are making with this pioneering project. We have made a couple of very important appointments and the latest grant from the Community Energy Programme is a very major step forward for us in developing our project.

"In times of rising prices and fuel poverty, being able to generate our own electricity, as well as provide heat from our local forestry resources and heat exchanges with our distillery, will be a giant step forward towards developing an innovative model programme for self sufficiency in energy in Caithness.

"We are excited about having the first combined heat and power scheme in UK, which is wood fired-this is truly a pathfinder project, of importance nationally, as well as for our community. It is planned to heat a total of 2,100 homes, of which 500 are Council houses in our regeneration area of Pulteneytown, as well as the hospital, High School, and other major public and private buildings. This will encompass approximately one third of the town of Wick, in the first instance. Presuming this works well, we will expand the concept wherever we economically can, to benefit the maximum number of people throughout Caithness.

"We are continuing along the path to innovation through our participation in the Northern Wood Heat Project for which the Northern Periphery Programme of the European Union granted 1.8 million euros last year. This project is co-ordinated by Highland Birchwood’s of Tore, working with the Forestry Commission, other Highland partners and Finnish and Norwegian partners.

"We expect some pragmatic and exciting results also to emerge from further partnership working which will allow us to further improve efficiencies in harvesting the forests and developing the use of wood fuel supply chains in this area, and look forward to positive results following the symposium in Finland in June."

The programme of works for the heat and power scheme anticipates installation and operation of the heat and power plant by the end of 2006, by which time many hundreds of dwellings should be connected.


28 Apr 2006