By DARA BUTTERFIELD
iPower, a low-carbon developer and social enterprise, has launched a scheme to install fuel cells across Scotland, for free, to combat fuel poverty funded by £1million Goverment investment.
The investment, from the Social Growth Fund – managed by Social Investments Scotland, will enable iPower to install around 70 micro Combined Heat and Power (mCHP) fuel cells, called BlueGEN, throughout Scotland.
The fuel cells convert gas to electricity and heat at the point-of-use which can significantly cut energy consumption and bills as, despite being only the size of a washing machine, they are capable of producing the same amount of energy as half a tennis court of solar panels.
Jon Cape, Director of iPower, said: “iPower is delighted to be working with Social Investment Scotland, and the BlueGEN manufacturers Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd to deliver this programme. Japan now has over 100,000 fuel cell mCHP units installed. We aim to play a leading role in bringing this scale of deployment to Scotland and the UK in coming years, making substantial cuts to energy bills and carbon emissions.”
iPower is intending to set up its fuel cells in a range of sites including schools, universities, social housing, council buildings, and private care homes. The current plan is for iPower install the technology for free leaving site owners to pay only for fuel use and servicing.
Alastair Davis, Chief Executive, Social Investment Scotland, said: “iPower’s fuel cell installation programme has the potential to be a game changer for many public, private and third sector site owners for whom rising energy costs are proving a serious issue. Once scaled up, the scheme will also make a sizable impact on meeting Scotland’s carbon reduction targets.
“It’s fantastic to see investment finance from our new Social Growth Fund beginning to make a difference on the ground. We’ve seen high levels of interest in the fund since it launched earlier this year and look forward to announcing further investments in the coming months.”
The 70 sites have not yet been confirmed and iPower is still accepting enquiries from site owners. After this first phase iPower has intentions to extend this project to a further 350 sites during 2015.
Social Investment Scotland was established in 2001 to provide a new finance model for Scotland’s charities and social enterprises. Since then it has invested over £43m in almost 180 organisations across Scotland. Loan finance via Social Investment Scotland is available from £10,000 to £1 million and is aimed at community enterprises and social businesses that might find access to finance from mainstream providers difficult.