GIB, Equitix acquire Scotland district heat biomass project

By Anna Simet | March 03, 2016

The U.K. Green Investment Bank plc and Equitix, an infrastructure project management and delivery company, have jointly acquired a biomass district heating plant in northern Scotland, with working plans to expand the network and build additional, smaller plants.

The £10 million ($14.18 million) transaction included the acquisition of Ignis Biomass Ltd., and the 3.5-MW combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plant it has owned and operated in Wick, Caithness, a town of about 7,500. The plant previously ran on fuel oil but was converted to wood chips by Ignis in 2012, after it took the project over from Highland Council.

The network currently provides heat and power to Pulteney Distillery, and heat to Caithness General Hospital, Wick Assembly Rooms, residences owned by Cairn Housing Association, and approximately 200 other domestic residences.

The upgrade and expansion will connect 150 new customers, according to statements released by GIB and Equitix. Plans are in place to upgrade the heating infrastructure at the plant and expand the district heating system with the aim serving new customers by March 2017.

Plans also include constructing at least four new smaller-scale, stand-alone CHP systems for major heat users in and around Wick, mostly for those whom are not accessible via the existing network.

The Equitix-managed fund Energy Savings Investments, which GIB is a cornerstone investor of, has committed £4.9 million to the project, and an additional £5.1 million of private capital from the Equitix Energy Efficiency Fund. In its early stages, the project received support from the Scottish Government’s District Heating Loan Fund.

Regen Limited is the project manager, and Stirling-based facilities manager FES FM Ltd. has been appointed to oversee the operations and maintenance of the network.