Pioneering wind-powered van helping pensioners

Pioneering wind-powered van helping pensioners

David Ross, Herald Scotland
30.09.11

 

DELIVERING shopping, prescriptions and provisions to scores of pensioners and disabled people across a large area quickly racks up the mileage and is a huge drain on fuel.

 

However, a determination to go green has seen a delivery service unveil what it claims is the UK’s first wind-powered vehicle.

 

Fife Shopping and Support Services (FS&SS) is using a van powered by plugging it in overnight to an electricity supply fed by a wind turbine.

 

The charging point is located at Methil’s £4.7 million demonstration and research facility, the Hydrogen Office, where a 750-kilowatt wind turbine feeds not only the national grid locally, but also a hydrogen-producing electrolysis plant.

 

This hydrogen is stored in a large tank on site and can be fed back through a fuel cell to provide power for the Hydrogen Office for up to two weeks without any wind. 

 

This means the electric van will be charged directly from 100% wind power, regardless of the weather, and is believed to be the first in the UK to do so.

 

Using the wind-powered van will save the distribution service, which is a not for profit organisation, £1500 a year, and reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1.8 tonnes.

 

The Fife scheme was set up by the council 16 years ago but was axed last year. However, 15 people who had worked on it decided to keep it going.

 

In a bid to cut staff mileage costs they contacted Community Energy Scotland and were subsequently awarded the first ever Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme grant towards an electric vehicle of £15,000, with additional support from Fife Council.

 

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “The Hydrogen Office and FS&SS are playing a vital role in demonstrating the link between Scotland’s renewable energy resources and the role that fuel cells and energy storage can play in low carbon Scotland. 

 

“The Scottish Government wants to ensure that communities right across Scotland benefit from the renewables revolution, and we are pleased to support this innovative project through the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme. We are committed to achieving the almost complete decarbonisation of road transportation by 2050, along with a mature market for low carbon cars – resulting in lower emissions by 2020.

 

Lynne Ogilvie, FS&SS managing director, said: “As a not for profit social enterprise keeping costs low for service users is vital and low cost delivery vehicles will make a substantial difference while protecting the environment."