A FACTORY under construction in Scotland will be powered by silage in a UK first.

NorFrame said its Aberdeenshire factory will be powered entirely by renewable energy, using an on-site "anaerobic digestion plant" – fuelled by silage from a neighbouring farm – to manufacture timber kit frames for homes, schools and commercial buildings.

The firm said this will not only eliminate the need for fossil fuels to heat or power facilities and their processes, but also create 11 new jobs and safeguard a further 14.

The National:

Gregor Davidson of NorFrame said: “The idea of combining the neighbouring anaerobic digestion plant and our own homegrown plant silage from a farm four miles away, with a two-zone heat capturing design came after months of testing and reworking our plans. It was a eureka moment.

“It means that we take plant silage, ferment it for six months and then feed it into the anaerobic digestion plant which will power the factory. During that process, heat is created.

"Our idea is to capture that heat – which would have otherwise gone to waste – and redirect it to heat the entire factory and office space. And any waste from the digestion process is then used as fertiliser for next year’s crop.

"It is a fully organic, closed fuel cycle and we know it will make a significant contribution to Scotland’s net zero ambitions.”

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He said their goal was to solve a carbon footprint problem that would provide 100% assurance that a timber manufacturing process can be clean, green, and cost-effective.

The completion of the £4m factory is aimed for spring of 2023 and will span 31,000 square feet.

NorFrame’s factory will use up to 60% of the anaerobic digestion plant’s renewable electricity and will produce 20 timber kits per week.

The building of its renewable energy factory comes in line with the Scottish Government’s announcement in June of measures to slash carbon emissions of all new-build homes by 32%.

The new energy standards also apply to newly built non-domestic buildings and form plans to reduce emissions across Scotland’s building stock by more than two-thirds by 2030.

The National:

Enterprise Minister Ivan McKee (above) said: “We are fully committed to reaching net zero by 2045 and developments such as NorFrame will play an important role to reach our goal.

“It’s great to see that new jobs will be created through this development. We are further supporting manufacturers’ innovation ambitions through the Low Carbon Manufacturing Challenge Fund, whilst reducing emissions across Scotland as we tackle the global climate emergency.”

The Low Carbon Manufacturing Challenge Fund was created to support innovation in low-carbon technology, processes and innovation.

Scottish Enterprise is providing NorFrame with £750,000 of financial support through the fund. This is the first grant awarded through the fund, according to NorFrame.

Rhona Allison, managing director of business growth at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Scotland’s manufacturers have a key role to play in helping the country meet its net zero ambitions.

“By encouraging the adoption and development of low-carbon products, services, technologies and processes, through initiatives such as the Low Carbon Manufacturing Challenge Fund, we can help them on that road.

“Identifying, combining, and harnessing the carbon-reducing technologies at its fingertips will see NorFrame take a truly circular approach to timber kit manufacturing that eliminates any use of fossil fuels. It’s exactly the kind of innovative thinking that the fund was designed to stimulate and demonstrates to other manufacturers the benefits of placing decarbonisation at the heart of their businesses.”

Philip Edwards of NorFrame said their clients have different thermal requirements depending on their own projects.

He added: “Our new facility will allow us to cater for different solutions and showcase the products within our timber frame package.”

In its submission, NorFrame detailed how its timber kits will meet rigorous energy efficient standards, therefore reducing the need for space heating in any building.

NorFrame said its certified timber comes from forests managed to strict environmental, social and economic standards under the Forrest Stewardship Council UK (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).