Nicholas Gubbins, Chief Executive of Community Energy Scotland, has welcomed the UK’s new Community Energy Strategy, announced by the Department for Energy (DECC) as bringing economic hope and prospective income to communities which were previously thought to have very poor economic or community prospects.
He said: “For the first time, the UK government has joined together issues relating to energy generation, supply, demand management and demand reduction – all of which are close to our hearts in Community Energy Scotland.’
“Only community energy has the power to change the way people think about energy, its production, use and impact. Connecting people with the energy they need is the biggest gain we can hope to make.’
“Phenomenal beneficial changes that would automatically occur if community energy projects were replicated in every community across the country. One community with a successful project inspires the next community to build on that success. Overall the benefits mount up too, for Scotland as a whole.
‘The Outer Hebrides is a great example of where ‘joined up’ action between community groups, a dedicated support charity (Community Energy Scotland), a local authority (Comhairle nan Eliean Siar), Scottish Government (CARES) and UK Government (FiTs) have yielded very significant community energy achievements.
“The islands are remote, are not on the UK gas grid and form a 160 mile long chain off Scotland’s Atlantic coast. It has been here, in some of the most economically-challenged areas that community energy projects are flourishing.
“For example – the Horshader Community Turbine – a 900kW Enercon E-44 wind turbine on the Isle of Lewis has been generating since October 2012and is on course to generate over £100,000 a year. Their community fund expected to open in the next month and has already started looking at a number of development projects with their own development officer already in post.”
Further south, Storas Uibhist the community owner of the south of the island owns and operates three 2.3MW Enercon E-70 wind turbines which have been generating since April 2013. These turbines will provide income of over £1 million per annum for reinvestment into community. These turbines were one of the most productive sites in Europe, and have turned wind into cash to strengthen the community and improve its long term economic and social prospects.
On the east side of the Isle of Lewis, the Tolsta Community Turbine – a 900kW Enercon E-44 – has been generating since September 2013 and is on target for a first year income of over £100,000 The Tolsta Community fund is expected to open later this year.
The Galson Estate –the community owner of the northern tip of the Isle of Lewis has recently commissioned its first 900kW Enercon E-44 wind turbine at Ballantrushal. Galson want to build two more. The power started flowing just last week.
At the other end of the Hebrides, the most southerly community on the islands of Barra and Vatersay have succeeded with an amazing project which saw the erection of their own 900kW Enercon E-44 wind turbine on one of the most Westerly points in Scotland. It looks out over the Atlantic and is expected to be generating within the next few weeks.