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Highland Farmer is Flying High with Energy Savings



An eco-extraordinaire farmer, entrepreneur and pilot from Dingwall, is taking green business to new heights thanks to funding from Resource Efficient Scotland’s SME loan scheme.

John Mckenzie, also known as ‘the Flying Farmer’, owns the GlenWyvis Distillery and farm in Dingwall. Last year he applied for an SME loan of £25,000 to add extra capacity to his solar panel electricity system.

An ex-Army Air Corps and Canadian Air Force pilot, John has enjoyed an exciting career which has even included chauffeuring Alex Salmond in his helicopter during the independence referendum campaign.

With equal interest in farming and renewable energy, John has been using his own farm to work on a number of projects promoting local energy production and saving. The result is a farm which harnesses wind, rain and sun for energy use.

On the site John has a hydro scheme, a wind turbine, solar panels, a biomass boiler and he drives an electric vehicle. He has also launched a crowd-funding project to raise capital for the new on-site distillery, which carries the slogan ‘Powered by Nature’.

John McKenzie, aka the Flying Farmer, said: “GlenWyvis aims to be the first locally-owned 100% carbon neutral distillery in Scotland and to further spread the understanding of modern renewable energy in this country.

“Our recent study showed we were short of energy potential in the summer when wind and hydro are at their lowest in terms of generation, therefore installing additional solar power via the SME loan fund was a great option for the business.

“The cost saving of the additional solar panel is £3300 per year with a 10-year payback. However the saving is just part of the story as it is our aim is to become 100% green, this has so far proved to be quite challenging.

“We are at around 95% at present and are currently looking at a feasibility study to install a battery to store our excess energy when we don’t need it, that way we can use it when we do.

“As a green energy and active farm site that operates 365 days, the SME loan fund to purchase another solar PV has added further savings to the business and is another important measure to help us reach our 100% green goal.”

Funded by the Scottish Government, the scheme aims to support businesses that are looking to reduce costs through improved energy, material resource and water efficiency. Loans of £1,000 to £100,000 are available to help businesses to reduce their carbon emissions, save money and increase their competitiveness.

Marissa Lippiatt, Head of Resource Efficient Scotland said: “The targeted funding and support provided by Resource Efficient Scotland has helped Scottish businesses save tens of thousands in operating costs. Using energy, water and raw materials more efficiently could benefit the Scottish economy by £2.9 billion. Often SMEs find that a lack of time, money or access to the right skills prevents them from making these changes and accessing their share of the savings.

“I’m therefore delighted for John and what he’s been able to achieve, I wish him all the very best in creating the first carbon neutral distillery in the county.”

Resource Efficient Scotland is a programme of Zero Waste Scotland that helps the public, private and third sectors reduce costs by using their energy, water and raw materials more efficiently. Businesses and organisations can benefit from a suite of online tools as well as a dedicated advice phoneline designed to provide support in all areas of sustainability.

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