North salmon farmer Loch Duart has introduced a £1 million hybrid feed storage barge to its operations, claiming a first for Scotland in the process.
The Sutherland firm said its new low emissions boat was part of its green commitment.
Scourie-based Loch Duart also said it was the first salmon farmer in Scotland to use a low carbon emissions hybrid feed storage barge.
Combining battery and diesel power, the hybrid system is expected to significantly reduce carbon emissions.
The boat has already been put to work on the Oldany fish farm, near Lochinver.
Loch Duart views this development as the beginning of our goal to further reduce the carbon footprint of all our farming operations.”
Hazel Wade, operations director, Loch Duart.
Loch Duart has four other barges of similar size.
It plans to convert its existing fleet of smaller barges and boats to the hybrid technology over the next few years.
Hazel Wade, the firm’s operations director, said: “Loch Duart is excited to introduce this system on one of our sea sites, an industry first for Scotland.
“Our aim has always been to rear the best quality salmon with the lowest possible impact on the environment.
“This system represents a significant step forward, reducing our fuel usage and emissions while ensuring quieter operations for the team, our salmon and the local environment.”
She added: “The new hybrid feed storage barge also provides enhanced staff welfare facilities for our people working at sea, often in harsh weather conditions.
“Loch Duart views this development as the beginning of our goal to further reduce the carbon footprint of all our farming operations.”
It is estimated the boat will reduce the site’s diesel consumption by up to 60%, compared with standard systems.
Calculations show CO2 emissions from the production of the batteries will be “earned back” after around 60 days at sea, Loch Duart said.
It added that by taking lorries off the road and delivering feed by sea, it was using a more environment-friendly mode of transport.
There is also the benefit of noise reduction through the use of an electric motor, ensuring a quieter environment for the farm team, fish and local wildlife, the firm said.
In addition, Loch Duart highlighted lower loads on the new barge’s generator.
This means there is less maintenance required, prolonging the lifespan of the vessel.
The hybrid system was developed by Norwegian aquaculture technology company ScaleAQ, whose UK general manager, Graham Smith, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support Loch Duart in getting the first hybrid powered feed storage barge into Scotland and hope we can continue this theme as the industry works towards reducing its carbon footprint.”
Loch Duart has been farming fish in Sutherland since 1999 and the Outer Hebrides islands since 2006.
Today, it employs about 140 people and produces around 6,000 tonnes of salmon a year.
Its fish is supplied to leading hotels, restaurants and retailers around the world.
The firm’s produce was on the wedding day menu at Buckingham Palace when the Earl and Countess of Strathearn – Prince William and Kate – tied the knot.
Loch Duart salmon has also featured at the Bafta film awards, taking pride of place in a banquet of the best of British food.
More recently, it featured on the menus at the COP26 environment summit in Glasgow.