4 Apr 2011
Transition in Action: Transition Linlithgow’s Solar Bulk Buying Scheme
In 2010 Transition Linlithgow (TL) began ambitious bulk buying project for solar thermal heating systems (STH). The project involved selecting a manufacturer and installer, and negotiating a discount to encourage participation. When selecting the hardware we have looked at all aspects of manufacturing and environment (green manufacturing process with minimum waste), manufactured locally (no large carbon footprint due to shipping from somewhere in the world to Scotland). Other key criteria are performance, lifespan (guarantees) as well as ethical business approach.
Initial interest and awareness for the project was raised through an exhibition organised by TL. Using a demo unit as well as promotional literature people could leave their names for future contact. We have linked the bulk purchasing project to home energy audits and whenever someone was interested in renewable technology we have investigated the suitability of the house with an in depth audit looking at the potential. Issues like boiler type, HW cylinder (dual coil already installed), roof design etc all played a part in the final advice provided. We then created a multipurpose contract “to fit all”. A contract with pre-set prices allowing for variations with up front pricing for extra design features. Householders can choose between a complete installed STH system (choice from three sizes) or a DIY kit for the budding DIY’ers who wanted to save even more money.
As the project grew, we experienced a lot of interest from neighbouring community initiatives to provide assistance with their possible bulk buying projects. Some wanted to hitch on the existing project with us whilst others sought advice on how to embark on a bulk buying project or wanted training from us to train their own staff in how to do it.
The success and positive experience of the STH bulk buying projects have led us to embark on other bulk buying schemes such as photovoltaic panels systems, ground source heat pumps and possibly micro CHP (combined heat and power). We are creating a social enterprise (community interest limited company, Ethical Solutions Scotland Ltd) which can apply potential income generation towards a sustainable group by giving back to the community. So far 3 new jobs have been created between the manufacturer and installer and the bulk buying schemes have the potential to create many more in the years ahead.
This piece was written by Alan Brown for ‘The Transition Companion’ . Find out more at www.transitionlinlithgow.org.uk.