The Ecovillage Findhorn four feasibility studies, funded by the Just Transition Fund with the aim of reducing carbon emissions, enhancing resilience, and generating green jobs in Moray and Scotland, were successfully concluded in April, 2023 ( as reported in the RB). These studies involved the collaboration of over 50 researchers from November 2022 to April 2023, and extensively incorporated community input on various subjects, ranging from household heating systems, microgrid strategy, Nature House design, food production and composting practices.
We have now uploaded the feasibility studies to the Ecovillage Findhorn website so that anyone can view and/or download them. Here is the link for you to access the documents, including:
Summary Project Report
Project 1: The Feasibility Study for an Ambient Ground Loop District Heating System
Project 2: The Findhorn Microgrid and Strategic Framework
Project 3: The Nature House Feasibility Study
Project 4: The Scaling Organic Food Feasibility Study
Just Transition Fund
The 4 feasibility studies that made up our Just Transition Fund grant are:
- Ambient Heat Loop: Michael Shaw & team looked at how we can replace all fossil fuel use in The Park with a Ground Source Heat Pump system for heating and hot water using ambient ground water. It is a district heating scheme with several loops to our various neighbourhoods. It’s a highly efficient way of significantly helping us to carbon neutrality.
- Microgrid/masterplan: John Talbott & team undertook a review of the electrical grid, modelling for increased future loads including electric car charging, new renewable energy generation options, and how to best operate a very smart grid. In addition, this team supported DevCom (now LPP group) and FF with the Strategic Framework working with Collective Architecture and other consultants and community bodies. Callum Bell helped to create a thorough digital record of existing infrastructure using all our historic plans that have been collected from various filing cabinets across The Park and elsewhere. Kate Warring put the information in CAD format so we will have a solid digital dataset that shows clearly where all our water & sewage pipes and electricity lines lie.
- Natur Haus: Arboreal Architecture (Tom Raymont) & team (including 18 students) looked at low cost affordable housing within a greenhouse. There is a brilliant documentary on Apple TV called ‘Homes’, that you can see a trailer for https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2n5DcNXJ8Y if you’d like to know more about the Natur Haus concept.
- Expanding our Organic Food Production and Composting: Tallis Tibbo & team explored the many variables and possibilities for increased horticultural production, regenerative agriculture and scaled up composting, all of which can potentially sequester carbon, improve soil quality and reduce our ‘food miles’.May 2023
A milestone was achieved with the completion of the 4 feasibility studies financed by the Just Transition Fund. It was a great relief to cross this threshold and be able to put the community forward to contribute to the fund’s trifold aims of reducing carbon emissions, increasing resilience and creating green jobs in Moray and Scotland more broadly. The studies engaged over 50 researchers between November and April and relied on community consultation regarding topics from household heating systems to food purchasing and composting habits.
By way of recapping what was done and what we hope might get funding – still to be sourced – I outline below a number of the proposed projects emanating from the feasibility studies. Some of these will be ‘firsts’ for Scotland, one of which includes retrofitting a neighbourhood of freestanding, existing homes with ground source district heating to remove LPG from the equation, another creating affordable, self-build homes within a greenhouse structure. The latter affords savings of up to 50% on conventional homes’ heating costs, and the growing space within the “Nature Houses” potentially reduces the costs and carbon footprint of the residents’ food consumption.
With increasing electrification required as we move away from gas and other fossil fuels, a combination of new technologies were assessed, all of which would have to work in concert for optimal effect. These include a Low Voltage electrical microgrid, the latest battery and thermal storage, plus smart grid technologies designed to balance the load. For example if we were to build new solar arrays increasing supply of electricity on the one hand, but encourage uptake of more electric vehicles, which consume more electricity on the other, we need a system to manage the supply and demand.
The studies point to the emergence of whole new industries that will significantly reduce Scotland’s carbon footprint and simultaneously create Green jobs. For example by reclaiming waste glass from Moray demolition sites to be used in greenhouse construction an entire circular economy in reclaimed construction materials can be created. Finally, the Building a Local and Resilient Food Economy project forecasts potential carbon emission savings of up to 22 tons in year one alone and a significant increase in production of vegetables under organic methods and pasture-fed meat. Overall it was estimated that implementing these 4 projects would create in the vicinity of 80 jobs in Moray and up to 12,000 green jobs further afield should our projects get funded and be replicated elsewhere in Scotland.