Solar Flower Power
The Vattenfall Unlock our Future Fund has supported the Meldrum Amenities Improvement Group to purchase an electric utility vehicle to maintain their colourful floral displays. A further award means that this vehicle will be fueled by solar power.
Meldrum Amenities Improvement Group (MAIG) was originally set up to provide Christmas lights for the town of Oldmeldrum but has since expanded to provide a number of community activities, including maintaining flower displays and providing leisure facilities. The group aims to improve and enhance the facilities and environment of Meldrum for the benefit of local residents and visitors. During the summer months, MAIG manages and maintains over 300 flower and plant containers of varying sizes from baskets to barrels, in addition to border displays throughout the town. The town's ‘in Bloom’ activities receive consistently high praise from both residents and visitors.
In 2019, MAIG was awarded £15,000 from the Vattenfall Unlock our Future Fund to replace their old diesel tractor and water pump with an electric utility vehicle. Getting the vehicle from the manufacturers in China to Meldrum in Aberdeenshire proved to be something of a saga, with a shipping breakdown in the South China Sea. There was also an error in the rear axle assembly specification leading to further delays greatly exacerbated by Covid related shutdowns in China and Italy, plus DVLA registration backlogs!
The vehicle finally went into service in the spring of 2021. A team of 14 volunteers use the vehicle daily in the summer, watering and maintaining the floral displays in the town.
As well as the direct benefits in terms of carbon savings and cost savings brought about by replacing the diesel tractor with an electric vehicle, MAIG has reported that the vehicle has attracted additional volunteers to the group. It has also been a very public display of the group’s commitment to reducing their environmental impacts and attracted interest from members of the public who see the vehicle out and about in the town. The virtual silence when watering displays has particularly been remarked upon.
One unexpected hitch encountered by the group was difficulty obtaining reasonably priced insurance. A lack of familiarity with such a vehicle in the UK insurance market limited the options available. This situation may improve as specialist electric vehicles become more widely adopted.
In 2021, MAIG were awarded a further £5,349 to install solar panels on their garage to supply electricity to the utility vehicle and heat propagation beds. This is likely to save 715kg of carbon per year compared to charging the vehicle from the grid. It will reduce costs for the organisation and may even generate a little income through selling surpluses back to the grid.
MAIG is planning to add graphics to the vehicle to make people aware that it is powered by renewables
"The volunteer teams will have the pride and pleasure in the knowledge that they are making their own contribution in some meaningful way to the current national and international efforts to reduce the world carbon footprint.’
Andrew McCartney, MAIG
To find out more about the fund, visit Vattenfall Unlock our Future Fund.