Posted on Wednesday 20 June 2012 by Ulster Business


Eamon Clarke, Alternative Heat Office Manager and Jamie Byrne Alternative Heat Sales Manager

Alternative Heat, a family run firm based in Castlewellan, has turned up the heat on its UK and Irish competitors by scooping a prestigious two year contract with the Scottish Highlands Council as part of a long term Biomass ‘green energy’ project.

The MCS registered company, which employs 25 people in its design and manufacturing facility, won the open ended contact in March 2012 and within 12 weeks designed, built and delivered the first phase of the contract for 25 unique Energy Cabins at a value of £2M. It’s anticipated that by March 2013, the total contract value will be in the region of £3.0M.

The Energy Cabin is a unique product which houses a Biomass boiler, integral fuel stores and all associated pipe work and electrical fittings, ready for connection onsite. The cabin is craned into place and simply connected to the existing heating system; reducing heating costs without the need to make any alterations to the building, existing heating system or plant room.

Company director Connel McMullan says: “Biomass boilers and our unique energy cabins are really hitting headlines now for businesses like leisure centres, care homes, schools and hotels– not least for the significant cost savings for business, but also to reduce carbon emissions and taxes which means quick payback on the initial install cost.”

In the UK, businesses can benefit from a 20 year government backed grant scheme to encourage renewable energy use and reduce carbon emissions – the RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive). This summer, Stormont will launch a similar incentive which will guarantee an annual return to the company of 12-14% payable quarterly.

“Using biomass energy systems from an MCS certified installer, will bring significant savings in heating costs; reduce carbon emissions and deliver guaranteed income. It’s an attractive proposition for any facility with high heating and hot water demands,” Connel adds.

This latest tender win has resulted in rapid growth for the firm, leading to the direct employment of 5 new staff. “We’re really proud of the fact that we are using local labour, suppliers and skills to design, build and commission these unique, bespoke energy cabins for clients across Ireland and the UK. Supporting the local economy is very much part of what our business is about,” Connel adds.

Mark Bleakney, Manager of Invest Northern Ireland’s Southern Regional Office, said: “The renewable energy sector is flourishing and with many customers seeking to reduce costs and become more environmentally friendly, the sales potential for Alternative Heat is considerable.

“The importance of exporting to local companies like Alternative Heat cannot be underestimated and this success will help the firm to further develop its market presence in Great Britain.”

In addition to Biomass Energy Cabins, Alternative Heat also supply solar panels, log boilers, underfloor heating, ground and air source heat pumps for commercial and domestic applications.

Stormont announced a renewable heat premium payment on 25th May for NI homeowners and commercial support in the form of a formal announcement of RHI is expected within weeks. The Renewable Heat Premium Payment means Northern Ireland householders can claim financial support toward the cost of installing a renewable energy heating system in their homes – support ranges from £320 for solar, £2,500 for a biomass boiler, £2,100* for an air source heat pump & £3,500 for a ground source heat pump.


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