Responding to the release of further details from the UK Government on the energy support plan for business, Trudy Morris, Chief Executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, said:

“Whilst it is welcome that the UK Government has finally responded and stepped up to provide an initial support package for firms by capping wholesale energy prices for six months, it is simply not enough.  We hope that the Chancellor’s fiscal statement on Friday, will give more detail on support for businesses.

“A six-month cap is not enough for businesses to be sufficiently reassured that the problem won’t return when the cap is no longer in effect.

“We also urge the UK Government to engage with the business community before defining ‘vulnerable industries’ cited for support after the original six-month cap.  Right now, many industries are vulnerable, and this is unlikely to change in such a short period of time.

“The Prime Minister has said she wants to deliver growth and get the economy going.  To do this, we need businesses to survive.”

ENDS

This month, we’re thrilled to welcome to our membership RDI Renewables and Belltown Power UK Wind Ltd we look forward to working with them both.

To discuss membership, please reach out to our Business Development manager, Fiona Levack. You can contact Fiona by email: fiona@caithnesschamber.com. You can read about membership on the website using this link.

If you’re already a member but would like a reminder of how to get the most from your membership, Fiona will gladly go over that with you too.

With the continuing energy crisis, many businesses are left wondering what their options are for lowering costs and becoming more resilient to ever changing market conditions.

Whilst the Chamber continues to lobby and campaign for government support for businesses, we wanted to know how renewable heating options stack up in this current economic climate. So, we asked our member Ryan Pollard, at RDI Renewables to share his thoughts on the options available for businesses in way that was easy to understand and clearly set out the cost benefits.

Here’s Ryan’s thoughts……….

Solar Photovoltaic

With the current energy crisis setting in, many businesses will be struggling to avoid the rising costs for fuel, in particular electric. There seems to be little we can do about it with some companies reporting as much as a 500% increase in their costs.

One option worth considering would be to check the feasibility of solar panels, in the past solar panels have been propped up by government incentives such as the feed in tariff scheme. In more recent years this technology has reached a point where it has been able to stand on its own two feet as far as financial returns are concerned. The standard domestic array from RDI Renewables today will cost around £5,500, this would be for a 5.3kW array which will produce around 4,000kWh per year of electricity. Based on recent costs of electricity of 17p/kWh this would have a value of £680 meaning the investment would pay for itself in just over 8 years, which is not bad.

It can be difficult to come up with a sensible estimate on what today’s electric tariff is as many businesses are being quoted as much as 63p/kWh. However let’s play it safe and go with 40p/kWh, on this basis on the same size of array you would yield 4,000kWh x £0.40 = £1,600. This is a staggering amount of money and would bring an annual return on investment of 29% paying for itself in just over 3 years.

The good thing about PVs is that they are very scalable and this example will be very similar on a larger scale. For example, a 38.5kW array was recently looked at for a local business on a building with very high electric use. This array will cost £27,086.67 plus VAT to install and will generate around 23,000kWh of electricity, based on 40p/kWh this will save this local business £9,200 per year.

Not all businesses are suitable as some will have much higher electric costs in the winter, for example if electric heating is used. In these cases solar PV may not be worth doing or at least not on a large scale. Many businesses however have consistent electric consumption throughout the year where manufacturing is carried out. Others may have much higher electric usage in the summer if the business has chillers/freezers which work much harder in the summer or perhaps the business is involved with the tourism industry which is seasonal and well suited for solar PV.

One final note to consider on solar PV is that the equipment is very reliable, this technology is solid state and therefore has no moving parts and no annual service requirements. The inverter is the only part of the system which is likely to break at some point and this comes with a 10 year warranty, aside from this the whole system is expected to last over 20 years.

Biomass

For businesses which are expecting high costs for heating throughout this winter another option which may be worth looking into would be a biomass boiler.  Let’s take a snapshot of some local prices for fuel and compare from most expensive to cheapest what options local businesses have.

Electric or storage heaters are by far the most expensive way of heating your business, with current electric prices in excess of 40p/kWh. Electric heating is only able to provide 1kWh of heat for every 1kWh of electricity consumed and therefore the cost of this form of heating is 40p/kWh or higher.

Air source heat pumps are a great way for many businesses to reduce costs as they use a refrigeration circuit to move heat energy around as opposed to converting it. As a result this technology can produce 3kWh of heat out for every 1 used, meaning the cost is only 13.5p/kWh. This technology is a great option for anyone who currently uses electric heaters for their business.

Kerosene or oil is another very popular form of heating within the North Highlands. Recent changes to the use of red diesel means that most businesses are now using this for their heating. Kerosene did shoot up to around £1.15/Litre recently but has settled back down to around £0.95 per Litre. 1 Litre of kerosene contains approximately 10kWh of heat meaning the cost is around 9.5p/kWh of heat, which is not bad.

Biomass takes many different forms however the 3 most common are log, chip and pellet. Logs are the cheapest form of heating. However, there are no automated feed systems for log boilers which means you have to load a boiler as well as clean it out and remove ash etc. Some businesses will have the manpower to accommodate this however many will not.

Wood pellets can be blown in via a lorry and the boilers are fully automated making this technology as easy to run as oil. However pellets are a manufactured fuel and are therefore sensitive to international oil and gas prices. This means that they have also seen a significant increase in cost over the past few months and are showing no signs of reducing.

Wood chip comes with the advantages of both of the above fuel types, it’s as cheap and available as logs due to the fact that local timber can be sourced from local forests and turned into chip by local contractors. The boilers are also automated so there is no need to light the boiler or refuel for example. If you have the space to accommodate the plant required to run such a system then you could consider the possibility of having a wood chip boiler installed. Many local businesses in the region have found great success in doing so and are continuing to reap the benefits. Wood chip costs around £120 a tonne and 1 tonne of chip (4m3) contains around 3,000kWh of heat, meaning the cost of heating your business with wood chip today is around 4p/kWh.

To summarise, many local businesses within the North Highlands are going to be struggling over the coming winter and beyond. Not all will be suitable for the above technologies however some will be. If you feel that you could benefit and would like to know more about how feasible renewables are for your business then please reach out to RDI Renewables and we will try our best to help. We have been established in the county for over 10 years now and have a wealth of experience as well as a long list of clients who can speak to our services and continued support long after the installation is complete.

Contact Ryan at info@rdirenewables.co.uk or 01847 890012

Thurso area to benefit from RES wind farm scheme

Cairnmore Hill, which went into planning this week, is understood to be the first wind farm in Caithness to include Thurso Community Council area as a direct beneficiary of its community benefit package.

RES has submitted a planning application to The Highland Council for its re-designed Cairnmore Hill Wind Farm. The revised 5-turbine proposal, sited approximately 4.5km west of Thurso, lies in an area identified by the Council as having ‘potential for wind farm development’.

If consented, Cairnmore Hill Wind Farm would be capable of generating enough clean, low-cost electricity to meet the annual demand of around 24,000 homes. It will also provide a tailored package of benefits aligned with community priorities to help deliver local projects that will secure long-term economic, social and environmental benefits.

 Read more here

The Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm (PFOWF) has joined the Caithness Chamber of Commerce as a diamond partner – the highest level of membership.

This will support the Chamber in its mission to create a vibrant business community within the North Highlands and maximise the opportunities the project will bring to the area.

The PFOWF is a 100-MW project being developed off the coast of Dounreay in Scotland which once completed, will generate enough clean electricity for almost 70,000 homes, approximately 65% of those in the Highland Council area.

Scheduled to be operational by 2026, the development will test and demonstrate new floating wind technology solutions which will reduce costs, accelerate industrialisation and offer learnings for future ScotWind projects and floating offshore wind globally.

Commenting on new membership, Richard Copeland, Project Director said:

“Highlighting our ongoing commitment to the region, our membership will allow us to engage further with the local supply chain in Caithness and beyond, providing opportunities to promote the wider benefits of the project, both during construction, and when operational.

“As part of our plans to work with local suppliers, we look forward to building a partnership with the Chamber to deliver social and economic benefits wherever possible; from the development of our O&M base at Scrabster Harbour to the wider infrastructure and support services the project will generate.

“We’ll also look to collaborate on skills initiatives through local colleges to provide provision for apprenticeships and training that bring further employment to the area. Complementary to this, is our education and training fund which will assist local school students going on to study STEM courses in further and higher education.”

Trudy Morris, Chief Executive at Caithness Chamber of Commerce, added: “We are delighted to welcome Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm as Diamond Premier Partners. This cements the importance given to maximising opportunities for the local supply chain and wider community and is a significant commitment by the organisation. We look forward to working with the team to help realise the opportunities for businesses, communities and our young people.

“This will be a transformational project for the region as offshore wind developments such as the Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm play a key role in helping Scotland and the UK reach their net zero targets as well as create jobs and drive investment in skills and infrastructure.”

 

www.pentlandfloatingwind.com

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This month, we’re thrilled to welcome to our membership two new Diamond Partners West of Orkney Ltd and Highland Wind Ltd as well as SSE Renewables as a Premier Partner.   We are also delighted to welcome Colin Campbell Photography and look forward to working with them all.

To discuss membership, please reach out to our Business Development manager, Fiona Levack. You can contact Fiona by email: fiona@caithnesschamber.com. You can read about membership on the website using this link.

If you’re already a member but would like a reminder of how to get the most from your membership, Fiona will gladly go over that with you too.

The developer of a major new offshore windfarm has joined the Caithness Chamber of Commerce with an ambition to maximise the long-term economic benefits the project will bring to the north of Scotland.

In January the West of Orkney Windfarm secured the rights to an area of seabed from the Crown Estate Scotland in the highly competitive ScotWind process, to bring forward a 2-gigawatt windfarm around 25km km north of the Sutherland coast. The project is now being developed by a joint venture comprising Corio Generation, TotalEnergies and Renewable Infrastructure Development Group (RIDG).

Scheduled to be generating electricity by 2030, the project will be capable of powering the equivalent of more than two million homes for decades to come.

The developer has now joined the Caithness Chamber of Commerce as a diamond partner – the chamber’s highest level of membership. This will help the windfarm engage with the local supply chain in Caithness and the north of Scotland and maximise the opportunities for local businesses during both construction and the longer-term operations of the project.

In October last year the project partners announced a £105 million investment initiative that will be enhanced to £140 million by third parties to support the offshore wind supply chain locally, in Scotland and across the UK ahead of a Final Investment Decision in 2026.

Commenting on the new membership, West of Orkney Windfarm Development Manager Jack Farnham said:

“Our membership of the Caithness Chamber of Commerce underlines our commitment to working closely with local businesses and the communities in the north of Scotland to maximise the long-term economic and social benefits this project will bring.

“Our ambition is to deliver up to half of the project’s content in Scotland over its lifetime and we believe the best way to achieve this is through close collaboration with industry and the communities in which we operate, supported by targeted investment where appropriate.

“We have been engaging actively with key local supply chain partners for a number of years and already the project is working closely with contractors across the Highlands and Islands.

“In September last year, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Scrabster Harbour Trust underscoring our commitment to support the enhancement of the port’s infrastructure and position the area to support offshore wind projects in the future.

“We have received a very warm welcome from Trudy and her team, and we look forward to working closely with the chamber to help enhance the capacity and opportunities for businesses in the north of Scotland.”

Trudy Morris, Chief Executive Officer of Caithness Chamber of Commerce said:

“We are delighted to welcome the West of Orkney Windfarm to the Chamber as a Diamond Premier Partner.  This is a significant commitment not just to the Chamber but to the local business community.  We look forward to working closely with Jack and his team over the coming years to help maximise opportunities for the local supply chain and optimise the socio-economic benefits for the region.

Offshore wind developments such as the West of Orkney Windfarm will play a key role in helping Scotland and the UK reach their net zero targets as well create a substantial number of jobs, drive investment in skills and infrastructure and deliver sizeable benefits to local communities.  It is great to see some of our members such as Scrabster Harbour already working with the West of Orkney Windfarm and one of our jobs over this next period will be to ensure other members have visibility of the opportunities that will be created through this development.”

In April the West of Orkney Windfarm published their Supply Chain Development Statement (SCDS) Outlook document.

The 21-page publication, which was submitted originally to the Crown Estate Scotland as part of the application process outlines the project’s supply chain and skills development plans, underpinned by a £140 million investment programme

Funds will be allocated across a range of initiatives, including:

The document also details the partners’ commitment to spend £932 million in Scotland during development, construction and the first six years of operations, underpinned by a target of 60 percent UK content (40 percent in Scotland and 20 percent in the rest of the UK), measured over the life of the project.

www.westoforkney.com

This month, we’re thrilled to welcome Myconsultant.biz, ROSE Sustainability Ltd, Park Lodge International Ltd, Caithness Agricultural Society and Liddicoat PR Consultancy to the Chamber membership group.

We also delighted to welcome Highland Coast Hotels Collection which includes Newton Lodge, Kylesku Hotel, Royal Marine Hotel, Tongue Hotel, Royal Golf Hotel and the Plockton Inn.

To discuss membership, please reach out to our Business Development manager, Fiona Levack. You can contact Fiona by email: fiona@caithnesschamber.com. You can read about membership on the website using this link.

If you’re already a member but would like a reminder of how to get the most from your membership, Fiona will gladly go over that with you too.