Project name: Nairn Community and Arts Centre

Technology: Solar PV and battery storage

Location: Nairn, Moray

CARES funding: Capital funding

Date installed/operational: March 2021

About Nairn Community Arts Centre

The Nairn Community and Arts Centre (NCAC) is located at the heart of Nairn, a small coastal town on the Moray Firth.

This bright, modern building was purpose built in 2007 with funds raised by the Nairn community. It has conference, art and entertainment facilities and has become a vital part of the Nairn community.

The centre welcomes more than 70,000 people each year and is home to more than 52 groups and local charities who meet regularly to engage in a variety of interests and activities.

Project aims and objectives

In late 2019, NCAC wanted to look at ways to reduce the centre’s energy costs and carbon footprint. It also wanted to become an environmental role model and demonstrate to other local organisations what could be done to address the climate crisis.

NCAC contacted Zero Waste Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Business Support Service for support and advice. An experienced consultant carried out a survey of the building and provided NCAC with a tailored report recommending improvements it could make to improve its energy efficiency and reduce its energy costs.

Based on the recommendations in the report, NCAC developed a ‘Climate Programme’ – a plan setting out how it would achieve this.

  • Install an electric vehicle (EV) charge point. This would encourage more local people to use EVs and would generate a small income for the centre too.
  • Upgrade the building’s internal and external lighting, including the theatre’s lighting grid, to energy efficient LEDs. This would reduce the centre’s electricity usage by 75%.
  • Install solar panels and battery story to generate its own clean, green electricity. This would also reduce its dependence on the National Grid.
  • Upgrade the building’s heating system to a modern, more efficient technology to reduce its heating costs and carbon emissions.

Outcomes and achievements

The NCAC was supported by various organisations to achieve its green ambitions.

Support was also received from The Highland Council, National Lottery, Postcode Lottery and EB Scotland.

There’s no doubt that the centre has achieved its aims. For example, NCAC’s solar panels and battery storage system generates, on average, 96% of its electricity demand. Excess electricity generated is fed back to the National Grid, generating an income of approximately £1,000 each year.

By generating its own energy, the centre has reduced its ongoing costs by more than 75%. This has reduced the VAT it pays to only 5% and has eliminated the Climate Levey charge too. The centre’s carbon footprint has also reduced by an estimated 4.5 tonnes between June and September 2021.

solar panels on the roof of Nairn Community Arts Centre

Lessons learned

An NCAC spokesperson said:

“Through every project that are always lessons to be learned and obstacles to overcome. During this project we uncovered various issues that extended the timeline of the project and its completion.

“Our biggest concern was the unknown impact that the Covid pandemic would have on the project. However, apart from time delays in getting people to visit the location because of Scottish Government restrictions, it had minimal impact on the overall project. These delays impacted the timeliness of the structural survey and therefore the Building Warrant, which put the project back by approximately two months.

“Overall, the most important aspect of our success was in our choice of supplier. They were flexible and understood the challenges that we faced and helped us to accommodate them.”

Find out more about the Nairn Community Arts Centre.