Heating specialist helps double the size of Wick’s Community Heating Scheme


MIDLANDS-based WilSon Energy, a leading provider of fully integrated heating, metering, pre-payment and billing and bureau services for residential homes and commercial developments, has helped to reduce fuel costs for tenants and boost sustainability by doubling the size of a district heating system in a Scottish town. 

The Wick District Heating Scheme is located in Wick, Caithness, in the Scottish Highlands. It uses woodchip to generate heat by combustion, supplying steam to Pulteney Distillery and heat to the local hospital and assembly rooms as well as heating to around 250 homes and public buildings in the area.  

Initiated by the Highland Council, the original aim of the scheme was to provide heating and hot water services to 500 homes in the town in a sustainable and cost-effective way. Wick has a population of around 8,000 people and a high number of the residents in parts of the town had experienced fuel poverty in the years leading up to the establishment of this scheme. 

A spokesperson from the Area Gas and Contractor administration team at The Highland Council said: “For some time, we have been considering ways to support sustainable power while easing the financial pressure on consumers and reducing fuel poverty. The roll-out of this heating network is strong evidence that this is achievable and we are pleased that our aims are being met in ways that benefits everyone.” 

Ignis Wick Ltd now owns the Energy Centre and District Heating Scheme, having taken over from the Highland Council a decade ago. It is managed and operated on its behalf by FES Group has been supplying heat to homes using local woodchip, rather than burning oil since2013.  

The energy centre burns around 700 tonnes of locally sourced woodchip each month and the heat is then distributed through a 10.5km network of underground pipes.  

WilSon Energy was initially awarded a contract in 2013 to support the conversion of customermeters to the district heating system for their water and heating. WilSon installed heat user interface units (HUIs) and smart pay as you go (PAYG) meters across 120 properties, replacing old gas boilers and installing the heat exchanger and smart meters so tenants could obtain individual bills for their energy usage.  

These changes delivered tenants a more attractive rate for their energy, averaging out at around £500 per year for heating and hot water and helping to take people out of fuel poverty. The conversion also reduced the average price per unit from 10p per unit plus a 40p per day standing charge for gas to a flat 4.8p per unit.  

Due to the success of the initial roll-out, WilSon Energy was awarded a new contract to expand the network further, by incorporating an extra 126 properties. This phase was launched in October 2022 and is ongoing with the last few units currently being installed over the next couple of months. 

Harris Gilmore, Energy Centre Manager at FES Group, said: “Collaboration is key to delivering a successful project, and our partnership with WilSon Energy has been paramount to this positive outcome. This new phase of the project has delivered economic benefits to a wider section of the Wick community, ensuring more tenants benefit from lower fuel costs in the most environmentally-friendly way.” 

The roll-out has benefited both Ignis Wick Ltd and tenants, as WilSon is also able to providetransparent billing information and data on energy consumption. Competitively-priced PAYG meters, reduced tariff costs allowing for direct debits and pay as you go options to help tenants manage their energy costs more efficiently and put them in control.  

Andy Wilkinson, Managing Director at WilSon Energy concludes: “We are proud of our growing reputation as a leading supplier of energy efficient solutions for commercial and residential clients and this latest project is testament to that. Reducing energy costs has never been more important, and this network is evidence of the tangible benefits district heat networks and community heating systems can deliver back to where it is needed most.” 

Ignis Wick and the council are looking to further expand the scheme by onboarding further residential and commercial clients in the future.  

For more information on WilSon Energy’s metering and billing services visit www.wilsonenergy.co.uk

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