Some of you may have heard talk about the possibility of switching to biomass fuel and for 6 months, I have been mulling things over, taking advice, exploring ideas as to what we should do.
With the formal announcement of the Renewable Hearing Incentive (RHI) it has become apparent that there are very strong economic reasons to switch as well as moral and environmental reasons.
We are looking to replace 9 boilers / water heaters with one 250kw biomass boiler and a 250kw oil boiler as a backup or ‘assist’ in very cold peak time e.g. Xmas! This will generate a considerable fuel saving when you consider the price of woodchip versus oil which, together with the incentive, makes the project feasible in the long term.
The project is likely to have a payback period of around 6 – 8.5 years depending on the price of oil. Our sister hotel, The Torridon, has had a biomass boiler for over 5 years, which has been extremely successful and has been a very good case study for us here at Torridon.
We will build a site for a new shed that will incorporate the biomass plant and machinery and fuel store. We are also looking to take advantage of economies of scale and also incorporate a new unit for Torridon activities that can be developed at a later stage. We hope to add a new drying room, indoor climbing wall and garage.
This week some of the mulling over stopped and the serious end of the project started. We have had contractors in to shift 2000 tonnes of soil and gravel for the new site and I was amazed at what speed two machines and a dumper can work at to clear and level a site. GG Mackenzie of Garve have done a superb job and we now have a site for a shed, a new road, new access and an area for stock piling timber.
The mulling must soon stop and a firm decision must be made. We are meeting a forestry contractor next week who has been working out of Coulin Resort and another in Ledgowan with a view to sourcing our own timber and chipping the wood ourselves. We have also been in discussions with a number of suppliers of woodchip to see what is available and more importantly at what cost. Moisture content seems to be the important factor as no-one want to be buying water, especially on the West coast!
We now know the scale and size of the project and will update you as things go.