Business hotting-up for newly formed biomass energy co-operative
Business is hotting-up for a newly formed Bury-based energy co-operative which has secured its first contract and is set to install a biomass boiler and viewing room at a church and social club in Ellesmere Port, Merseyside.
Following a chance discussion at a football game, Grant Miller, Chris O'Connor and Ricky Davies, went on to register as a co-operative with support from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub and set about turning their ‘energy' for renewables into their day job.
Over a 20 year period it is projected that the church's investment in its new energy system - through funds provided by the Government's Renewable Heat Incentive - will see a return that not only covers installation and fuel costs over the period, but also generates a surplus income in excess of £130,000.
The biomass boiler will burn locally sourced wood shavings and pellets which is estimated to reduce the church's CO2 emissions by more than 580 tonnes over 20 years with any ash produced sought after by horticulturalists as a component for composts.
In addition to providing energy savings, the focus of the Biomass Energy Cooperative is to promote a transition to a lower carbon economy while contributing to wider environmental improvements. It offers a free feasibility study service and supplies and installs the latest heating systems to commercial buildings, residential homes, schools, community buildings and large domestic properties across the North West.
Chris O'Connor, operations director at the Biomass Energy Cooperative, said: "Modern biomass boilers are simple in principle. They are fully automated, require very little maintenance and use wood pellets, wood chips or energy crops to provide heat and hot water.
"We believe it is an exciting time for renewables, they have the potential to transform the way that business thinks about its heating. People are genuinely amazed at how much they can save and, with programmes like the Renewable Heat Incentive - similar to Feed-in Tariffs, a comparable scheme for electricity - it is expected that even more people will explore the installation of renewable heat equipment."
The Co-operative Enterprise Hub has set aside £1m between 2012-14 to scale-up the number of community-owned renewable energy projects. It is a free business support service provided by The Co-operative Group - the UK's largest member-owned organisation.
Piloted in the North West in 2009, the service, which is dedicated to the creation and growth of sustainable co-operative enterprises, has now assisted more than 750 member-owned businesses across the UK.
Michael Fairclough, Head of Community and Co-operative Investment at The Co-operative, said: "The Co-operative is working to support and encourage co-operatively owned renewable energy projects - equipping more people with the tools to control, generate and benefit from renewable energy.
"We believe this support will lead to a step-change in people's thinking about energy and, inspire others to take action - a catalyst for a clean energy revolution across the UK."
For more information about biomass boilers or for a free feasibility study, go to biomassenergy.coop
For further information about setting up a co-operative and the free support, advice and guidance available to new and existing member-owned enterprises contact The Co-operative Enterprise Hub at co-operative.coop/enterprisehub