Up and running. Sutherland-based GMG Energy switches on its huge solar array to provide energy for its burgeoning local business

Up and running. Sutherland-based GMG Energy switches on its huge solar array to provide energy for its burgeoning local business

A sustainable timber products specialist which contributes significantly to the circular economy in the Highlands and the Northern Isles has become even more energy efficient after putting a massive solar array on the roof of its production facility into operation.

The six-figure initiative means that biomass supplier GMG Energy can now move away from the use of expensive and polluting diesel generators for its energy-intensive activities and rely instead on electricity created from the long daylight hours of the north-east of Scotland.

The £100,000 installation and commissioning of the new power system has been supported by a £70,000 loan from the Energy Saving Trust, repayable over nine years, and will allow GMG to substantially mitigate its heaviest fixed cost.

In addition, the £34,000 introduction of three-phase power for GMG’s electric motors and other heavy loads has been supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise with a 50% grant, and will allow the firm to provide surplus energy to the National Grid.

Malcolm Morrison, Director of GMG Energy, said: “The team at GMG is very conscious that it operates in a pristine and beautiful part of the Highlands and everyone is pleased to be able to make a tangible contribution towards keeping it that way.

“Now that the solar array – which consists of more than 100 panels which cover the roof of our production shed – is up and running, we can cut back dramatically on fossil fuel consumption and our aim is that solar will, in the near future, be responsible for 100% of our energy needs.

“I would like to express my admiration for the efficient, understanding and professional way that Highlands and Islands Enterprise dealt with our application for support and also for the generous terms that the Energy Saving Trust offered to allow us to proceed with this major local initiative.”

GMG Energy, which originated on a farm in the Strath of Halladale in Sutherland, processes in the region of 2,000 tonnes of timber a year. It has invested £150,000 in state-of-the-art sawmill equipment which takes its larger timber and processes it into posts, rail, cladding and purlins, or structural roof members.

It has also recently spent in the region of £100,000 on timber treatment equipment which will open up new markets among construction companies and farm businesses which require treated and stress-tested products.

It is on target for turnover of £2 million which it intends to maintain despite the effects of spiralling fuel, transport and labour costs.

The supply and installation of the solar array was carried out in a single day by Dumfries and Galloway-based solar specialists RJW Electrical Services, which operates at domestic and commercial premises across the UK. It also maintains and services large scale solar panel farms.

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