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Wind to heat helps district heating scheme to expand

SHETLAND Charitable Trust is to invest a further £3.6 million in the Lerwick district heating scheme to allow the biggest wind to heat project of its kind in the UK to go ahead.

The investment will allow an extra 300 homes and 30 businesses to sign up to the scheme, meeting some of the demand to get away from oil-fired and electric heating.

Energy from three 2.3MW wind turbines, planned to be erected on Luggie’s Knowe, will be used to heat water in a huge kettle-like thermal store.

The scheme, which forms part of the pioneering NINES (Northern Isles New Energy Solutions) project, has already attracted £800,000 in European funding towards the £2 million thermal store.

The charitable trust, through its wholly owned subsidiary Shetland Heat Energy and Power Ltd (SHEAP), will now invest the remaining £1.2 million towards the thermal store, along with £2 million on the infrastructure to connect more than 330 more premises.

A further £400,000 is being invested in the business to provide working capital, increasing the value of the trust’s shareholding to £1million.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of the charitable trust, SHEAP chairman Gary Robinson said the company would start saving money as soon as the thermal store was connected, expected to be by next winter.

He added: “The Lerwick district heating scheme has attracted people from all over the world who wish to replicate its success.

“This latest innovation, the first of its kind in Britain, will no doubt attract even more interest at a time when everyone is focussed on reducing energy bills and environmental impact.”

The trust is confident the project will pay for itself and provide a return for its investment to help fund the various organisations it supports through its £11m annual budget.

Its financial controller Jeff Goddard added: “The district heating scheme is a flagship for the trust as it demonstrates we can improve the lives of local residents, help the environment and make a satisfactory return on our investment at the same time. I would call it a win/win/win scenario.”

The project still hinges on SSE Renewables receiving planning permission to erect the three wind turbines north of Lerwick.

Permission is expected shortly following a public consultation, which resulted in no outstanding objections.

SSE Renewables are offering Shetland Charitable Trust the opportunity to take a 50 per cent stake in the turbines, however that decision will only be taken later this year.

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