Britain’s largest community wind-farm secures £11m funding

The Beinn Ghrideag Community Wind Farm on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland has been deemed a 'breakthrough project for community energy' after receiving £11m of funding from Santander.

Over 25 years, the wind farm is forecast to produce income of £48m from an original £15m investment. All of the profit will be reinvested into eight key community projects, including insulating 350 homes; renovating local villages, finding employment for at least 100 young adults; and funding for the local hospice

In addition, building, operating and maintaining the wind farm itself will create at least three full-time jobs initially and help to sustain four further jobs in the local maintenance and support unit.

Renewables Routemap

Due for completion in September 2015, the farm was conceived and developed by the Point and Sandwick Development Trust (PSDT), with additional funding from the Renewable Energy Investment Fund and BIG Lottery.

Commenting on the project, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Our ambition is for communities across Scotland to share in the rich economic and social rewards of our country’s outstanding renewable resources. Community and local ownership of renewable energy is a high priority for the Scottish Government and is an intrinsic part of our Renewables Routemap for Scotland.

“Point and Sandwick is exemplary of the huge benefits that local energy ownership can bring, supporting the needs of the community for decades to come, whilst creating and securing jobs, underpinning regeneration and funding energy efficiency improvements for hundreds of local people.”

Beinn Ghrideag will be an important milestone in the Scottish Government’s community energy strategy, which is targeting 500MW of locally owned renewables by 2020.

A recent report from Community Energy Scotland found that even a single 900KW turbine could generate local income of £10,000 from construction, £20,000 for operation and management, and around £125,000 a year from the electricity itself.

National scale

Meanwhile, the UK government yesterday (7 October) gave a boost to community wind projects in England, releasing a best practice guidance for the policy and predicting that onshore wind will power between 5.9m and 7m homes by 2020.

Author of the report Cheryl Hiles said the increasing popularity of the model was forcing developers to “ensure they have a coherent strategy of engaging with communities near to proposed developments”.

“I am already working with proactive developers and communities across the UK to help them demonstrate to people just what can be achieved by communities hosting wind energy developments,” she added.

Brad Allen

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