Why have we made changes?
In recent years we have seen energy prices skyrocket, inflation hit record levels and the whole country impacted by the cost of living crisis. As a business that works tirelessly to produce quality products at affordable prices – being hit by price increases across the board makes this mission increasingly difficult as increased prices to make our products result in increased prices to sell our products which inevitably ends up costing the customer more. At the point where our energy prices were 10 times more expensive than the previous year we knew we had to make a change for the long-term sustainability of our business and the brand that customers know and trust.
In order to have as much control over our future costs as possible we needed to invest in sustainable energy solutions. Not only would this change mean we freed ourselves from turbulent future energy costs it would also mean we became self-sufficient for energy and water – no longer taking from the grid and therefore the planet to power our business but becoming a beacon in Scotland, and the UK, as a business that used its own profits and success to invest in the technology needed to move forward with green energy – showing that it is possible to become carbon neutral, or if all goes to plan, carbon negative (giving back more than we take out).
What were we already doing?
As a business, we have always cared about environmental sustainability and have a long-term environmental policy in place that is central to the culture of our business.
Wild Life Friendly Water
Situated as we are in the heart of Perthshire, we have an on-site natural spring that provides all of our freshwater (30000 litres per day). Once used the water is then treated onsite through our ecological treatment system of natural ponds and wetland cells, which as well as cleaning the water support a wide range of fauna, flora, and wildlife. This means we have a closed loop system for water which is low cost, zero carbon & wildlife friendly, an ecological alternative to conventional systems that use tankers to remove the waste material off-site, where it is further processed.
Dipped our toe into solar
In 2013 we installed 600 PV solar panels on the roof of our factory and warehouse to harness the energy from the Scottish sun. Over the last 10 years, we have seen the benefits of streamlined processes due to more efficient energy consumption but at a scale that no longer does enough to make a significant impact on our operating costs or our environmental impact. They were good but not good enough…
The changes and plans we have made in 2023
2.1MW Solar Array
In early 2023 we received planning approval to install a 2.1MW solar array in the field behind our factory. We completed the installation of the 3800 (550w) panels in September. In addition to the panels we also built a switch room and dug the necessary trenches to lay the cable needed to connect the panels to the grid.
To maximize the return from the solar energy we also installed 2 x 450KWh lithium batteries to store electrical energy and 2 x 12000 litre water storage tanks to convert the solar energy into the hot water we need to use every day for washdowns and cleaning.
While we have put in place everything we could to maximise the return from solar unfortunately the sun just does not shine long or brightly enough to provide us with all the energy we need to stop taking fossil fuel energy from the grid and the planet.
2.3 MW Wind Turbine
In order to make the positive environmental changes we need to make to become a forward-thinking climate-positive business we need to add wind power. It is only with the addition of a wind turbine that we can generate all the energy we need to operate and grow. Our planning application for a 104m high – 70m to the hub – turbine is in its final stages of consideration and it’s fair to say it has been met with some resistance. Wind turbines seem to be like ‘marmite’ you either love them or you hate them but unlike marmite, it is about more than personal preference. It is about making changes that harness the earth’s natural energy sources and that power our economy and livelihood without further detriment to the planet and the climate crisis. Below we answer some of the points and concerns raised over the turbine plans and hope these go someway to reassuring you that on balance a greener future is better for us all.
CONCERNS AND OUR RESPONSES
It’s bigger than the Statue of Liberty!
The proposed wind turbine is 70m to the hub and 104m to the tip of the blade. The Statue of Liberty is 93m tall apparently so I guess you could say that it is! But I’m not sure what relevance the Statue of Liberty has to our Perthshire village. This comparison is created to shock and sensationalise the conversation. What’s important is the impact of the turbine (both positive and negative) due to its size, not that it is bigger or smaller than something else.
In order to limit the visual impact of the turbine we have planned for its position to be at the very back of the solar field, in the slight dip, backed by the hill at the rear. Rather than on top of the hill to maximise output. However, the higher the wind turbine the more effective they are so it makes the most environmental sense to install the size of turbine to best meet your energy demands. Or what’s the point? We aren’t doing this to be seen to do the right thing. We want to make a difference.
*The proposed turbine is smaller than the ones shown above. 341ft
It’s going to be so noisy!
The closest that a wind turbine is typically placed to a home is 300 meters or more. At that distance, a turbine will have a sound pressure level of 43 decibels. To put that in context, the average air conditioner can reach 50 decibels of noise, and most refrigerators run at around 40 decibels. Anyone who has been up close to a turbine will know you can hear the swoosh but once you walk even a short distance away it becomes almost unnoticeable. We at Findony will be the closest to it by far. This isn’t a change we are making that will impact others more than it impacts ourselves. But for, at worst, the sound level of a fridge in amongst the normal noises of everyday life to make such a positive move to a sustainable future we feel there is no question to be answered here.
Energy will be wasted.
One of the things we hate most within our business is waste. You simply can’t operate a successfully growing business if you tolerate it. All our plans maximise the return from the energy we produce. We’ve changed the site to operate at high voltage so we don’t even waste energy in the conversion process. The batteries and heat tanks we have in place not only optimise energy use they mean we need less energy to operate in the first instance, for example by using energy to hold water at temperate rather than having to heat it every time it is needed. We’ve put a lot of thought into this! However, there will be days when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing (it is Scotland after all!) when we generate more energy than we need to operate and store so we have also established an export connection with SSE meaning we can sell back any excess energy having a positive impact to the supply and demand energy crisis in two ways – no longer taking from the supply but also by adding to the ‘pot’ with environmentally sourced Scottish energy (the best kind!).
It is far more powerful than needed! Enough to power 7000 houses!
If the turbine we installed worked flat out in strong winds 24hrs a day 365 days a year then yes it would generate 27 million kws which would be enough to power 7000 houses. But again this example has been given to shock and sensationalise. We all know that the wind doesn’t blow strongly 24 hours a day, every day of the year. In fact, it is predicted that a wind turbine will in fact only deliver around 20% of its possible max output due to the calm, still days we all enjoy throughout the year. Therefore it is the 20% output that is relevant and that must cater to the needs of the business.
It is going to be an eyesore and change the character of Dunning as a conservation village.
The visual impact is a discussion point, for sure. We respect everyone’s opinions on this however it isn’t a reason to discredit the green credentials of the application. If there was another way to make power that provides the shortfall of solar in Scotland then we would do it. However, the solution is a turbine and while it would be visible on the skyline of Dunning and that is a change we all need to get our heads around, it is a change for the greater good. Turbines are becoming a way of life, you see them across the countryside as responsibility for energy consumption and production grows and grows. The world needs us to ALL make changes and adapt for the greater good of the planet, While a wind turbine on the outskirts would be different at first, it would not ruin Dunning as a conservation village, it would in fact show that Dunning takes conservation seriously.
We haven’t made these plans to upset anyone, quite the opposite. We are making changes to ensure we protect both the planet and our costs, which in turn protect our customer costs. This is a big commitment for us and it’s a long slow payback (especially as power has reduced in price) but we will truly be doing the best we can to stop talking about the future and start taking action. Climate change is happening. We must all do our bit.
Anyone that still has concerns they wish to discuss please contact the factory to arrange a meeting with Simon 01764 684 332