Construction has commenced today (March 3rd) on the new £24 million biomass fuelled wood pellet and energy plant at the former Alcan smelter site at Invergordon by Northern Irish company, Balcas.
As well as bringing major new investment to the local economy, this plant will produce 100,000 tonnes of brites, the Balcas branded wood pellet, enough to heat 20,000 homes per year with a greener heating alternative. The plant, using sawdust and other wood fibre, will be self sufficient in electricity, and will also provide a further 5MWe to the national grid.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has approved £5.5 million in the project which is expected to be fully operational in March 2009. The plant will create 38 full time jobs which could add 307 indirectly Scotland-wide, and will also decrease carbon emissions by 170,000 tonnes per year.
Richard Myers, senior development manager at HIE (Invergordon) said: “HIE welcomes this substantial renewable energy development as a valuable addition to industry north of the Cromarty Firth and indeed the region."
Balcas currently operates the largest wood pellet mill in the UK and Ireland, in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh which produces 50,000 tons of brites. There the plant supplies 2,500 homes, as well as 50 commercial customers including 13 hotels, 12 schools, five nursing homes, five leisure centres and a prison.
Managing director of Balcas, Ernest Kidney said: “This is certainly an exciting time for us as a company. Since the success of our Enniskillen operation, we have had many enquiries from Scotland. The new Invergordon plant, which will start production in March 2009, will provide Scotland with an environmentally friendly fuel to meet this demand.”
brites already have somewhat of a Scottish following with bags available to purchase through a growing number of outlets (See www.brites.eu for a list of Scottish outlets). Over the summer Balcas will be importing from Ireland so that customers can receive supplies from August onwards.
Alistair McGlynn is the man responsible for developing the brites market in Scotland for Balcas. He began his role as business development manager in December 2007 to put in place the necessary ground work for the new development. There are now a number of companies distributing and installing pellet boilers and stoves, which is great news for potential customers who will now have a wider choice to select from, and a local source of fuel to rely on.
For further information on brites log onto www.brites.eu and for further information on the Scottish Community Homes Renewable Initiative which provides grants to put towards the purchase of pellet boilers and stoves log onto www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/schri