Residents of the Isle of Canna off the west coast of Scotland have secured £1.3m to largely ditch their diesel power generators in favour of a new community-owned renewable electricity system based on solar PV, wind, and battery storage technologies in a bid to cut fuel usage and costs. Construction of the off-grid renewable energy system is due to start next month and is expected to take around seven months to complete, after which profits from the power generated will be used to cover operation and maintenance costs, and reduce bills for local homes and businesses. The existing diesel generators will continue to be leased to islanders, but it is hoped that upwards of 90 per cent of their electricity needs will be met by the PV panels and six small onshore wind turbines being built on the island. The community has established its own enterprise – Canna Renewable Energy and Electrification Ltd (CREEL) – to own and operate the new equipment.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority will today launch a new £15m loan programme designed to make it easier for property and infrastructure developers to incorporate renewables as part of their projects. Backed with funding from the European Regional Development Fund, the Greater Manchester Low Carbon Fund will offer loans to fund projects that would not attract traditionally commercial finance due to the relatively new technology involved, or projects that would be improved through the fund’s expertise. The loans will then be repaid over a 15 year period with the proceeds then recycled into further green projects across the region. The aim is for the fund, which will be managed by property specialists GVA, to complement the existing Greater Manchester European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) fund, which provides grant funding for support early stage renewables and energy efficiency projects, such as street lighting upgrades. Under the new arrangements, the ELENA Fund is able to provide assistance for upfront project costs with the Low Carbon Fund following on with commercial investment, the authority said. Example projects include wind turbines that are dedicated to a development, projects generating energy from waste, or Biomass Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems that generate electricity and heat powered by renewable woodchips.
Highland Council is to invest £2.3 million in building a range of small solar farms across its estate after agreeing on a scheme that aims to make more than £4 million for the council over 20 years. The council’s current plans would see 2.5MW of solar built, comprising ten 250kWp arrays built on land that according to Councillor Bob Lobban, chairman of the authority’s redesign board, could not be used for anything else. A total of 37 locations throughout the council estate have been identified, with the final sites yet to be selected. This number could rise after consultations are carried out with residents to decide where the new solar arrays could be located. Instead of a power purchase agreement model, which would not require the council to put up any upfront capital to pay for the new sites, Highland Council will enter into long term borrowing agreements with ‘cheap’ interest rates in order to make a profit. With these funds easily accessible, installations will be dictated by how long the site selection process takes, but Lobban expects the first sites to be completed before the end of 2018, with net profits to be achieved each year of the 20-year lifespan of the panels.
Western Isles householders currently paying above average prices for electricity can now benefit from fairer tariffs – and help bring money back into the community too – thanks to a community-led scheme being launched today (Tuesday), Hebrides Energy, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company led by Tighean Innse Gall, Hebridean Housing Partnership, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, The Stornoway Trust and Community Energy Scotland, is teaming up with Scottish “Fairer Energy” supplier Our Power to promote a range of new Hebridean Tariffs to the local market. It is hoped that the savings offered will represent a key step in the crusade to curb fuel poverty, which now sees nearly 60 percent of Island homes struggling to afford energy bills – one of the UK’s worst hit zones. Any profits will be plied back into the company’s mission to tackle fuel poverty. Hebrides Energy Chairman Carola Bell said: “This is a first-of its kind venture for the islands and the team at Hebrides Energy has worked long and hard to get this far. It’s a great pleasure to be working with Our Power, with their proven track record and positive, community-centred ethos, and we hope that many islanders can benefit from the new tariffs on offer.
Keele University is set to become a guinea pig for low-carbon heating from next year, as part of a new trial to pipe hydrogen gas into the heating network. The HyDeploy project, which is being run by gas distribution company Cadent and officially launched last night at a Parliamentary reception, will see hydrogen gas pumped into Keele University’s private gas network. Up to a share of 20 per cent hydrogen will be blended into supplies to test how much can be safely used as part of existing gas distribution systems. Hydrogen is widely viewed as a much greener alternative to natural gas, because when burnt it produces only water and oxygen. However, to fully convert the UK’s gas network to hydrogen some 26m domestic boilers would need to be swapped for hydrogen-compatible ones, an expensive undertaking. Cadent thinks a blend of up to 20 per cent hydrogen could be feasible to cut heating emissions without compromising domestic boilers and cooking equipment. The live trial is backed by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition, and is the first stage in an ambitious £600m project that would eventually encompass millions of homes and businesses across Liverpool and Manchester.