Scottish wind industry gives back with record £8.8m for community projects
Community projects funded by Scotland's onshore wind industry have hit a record high of £8.8m a year.
According to research from Local Energy Scotland, cash offered to communities by Scottish wind farms has funded a variety of community projects across Scotland including building a new town hall in Aberdeenshire, sending a dance school from West Lothian on a street dance trip to Germany and funding community car and cycle clubs.
Local Energy Scotland’s Community Renewables Register found an average of £3,300 was paid back into community projects per MW per year.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “These figures demonstrate how community benefits from renewable offer an unprecedented opportunity to improve people’s lives.
“Over £8.5m invested in such diverse projects in the last year demonstrates a great level of commitment from developers, large and small, to ensuring that green developments harness not only the wind, but the goodwill of local communities.”
Scotland has been leading the way for renewable energy in the UK. Renewable energy sources accounted for 50% of the country’s electricity production in 2014, with wind power generation growing 4% on the previous year.
The figures from Local Energy Scotland follow Edinburgh Council’s launch of the UK’s largest urban community renewable energy project in May this year. The city plans to install community-owned solar panels on 25 public buildings while offering investors an annual 5% return.
Environmental lobby groups such as Friends of the Earth have called on the UK Government to make community renewable energy a priority.
The latest announcement from Local Energy Scotland shows money returning to communities across the country. Senior policy manager for industry group Scottish Renewables Joss Blamaire said: “This new figure shows quite clearly the huge contribution green energy projects are making to communities across Scotland. Without onshore wind, many of the worthy projects which have been supported so far simply could not have gone ahead.”
Further local projects on the from the Community Renewables Register include £15,000 of funding from wind farms in Ayreshire for new outdoor adventure activities for children and investment aimed at encouraging more girls into adventure sports such as mountain biking.
Chris Morris of Local Energy Scotland added: “The Register shows not just the financial value of Community Benefit funds, providing sustainable income to Scottish communities every year, but also shows what can be achieved with the revenue."
The announcement comes in the same week as Global Wind Day, which celebrates the ongoing growth of the wind energy industry around the world. To commemorate the Day, edie came up with 10 fascinating facts about wind that will 'blow your mind'.