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.
The Outer Hebrides are “on the brink of major renewables energy developments,” Western Isles Council has said. Council leader Roddie Mackay said at a seminar yesterday that renewables projects offered “major potential for huge investment”. He added: “The stakes are huge and our communities should be working together to ensure that we deliver maximum community benefit from the interconnector and the vast renewable resources we have here in the islands. “This is about the whole of the Western Isles benefiting from our resources and our partnership working, and the council is committed to supporting all renewables developments, including community energy. “The UK Government recently confirmed that remote island wind will be an eligible technology to compete in the 2019 Contracts for Difference auction – and it was made very clear from today’s seminar that the Lewis Wind Power and Ushinish developments are the only projects which have the planning consents and the grid connection offer to be able to compete in that auction and deliver transformational opportunities and benefits for our communities.”
Fountainbridge is poised to lead way on sewage energy. As old brewery site at Fountainbridge undergoes a once in a generation change with schools, offices and more, there is a new idea on tap. Environmental groups and city planners are looking at how to use the huge sewage network underground to generate heat and energy. And they say if the technology can be made to work, it could save the community thousands as well as drastically reducing carbon emissions. The site-wide district heating system has been discussed before. It almost made it into the agenda some years ago, but fell short during organisational changes of city projects. Reports commissioned for the scheme suggest the old brewery site could be made to deliver energy and carbon savings of around 26 per cent. That would allow the likes of Boroughmuir High School – which moves into the site on Wednesday – and other developers to plug in. The technology has already been proven elsewhere, with Scottish Water winning a gong for delivering Britain’s first heat-from-sewage system in the Borders. The success was such that it earned them the 2017 Scottish Green Energy Award for Best Innovation. That groundbreaking project now sees it supply Scottish Borders College with most of its annual heating and hot water demands, saving not just cost, but 150 tonnes per carbon. From a technology point of view, early indications are said to have proven favourable for the site, with flow being large enough to accommodate a heat exchanger to clean the water which then sees its temperature raised and distributed. Jane Jones, who has been campaigning on the issue with Fountainbridge Canalside Initiative as joint secretary, said the move could turn money going down the drain through wastage into cash in the hand for locals. Research and studies she has seen indicate that the plans could deliver energy for more than 750 homes at the site of the old Scottish and Newcastle Brewery, using the same kind of technology now working in Galashiels. She said: “The benefits for everyone are huge. “Heat which would otherwise go to waste can be used to heat the entire development. Not only that, but existing buildings in the area can also link in – like the new Boroughmuir School and developments around Lochrin Basin.”
A staggering £290,000 has now been pledged to Brighton Energy Coop’s latest community solar PV schemes. This excellent achievement has been done by BEC members both old and new; nearly 100 people have said they’ll support our new solar PV projects – which we’ll be announcing in the next few days.
Energy for Londoners: Mayor powers up £34m solar and energy efficiency plan. Mayor Sadiq Khan officially launched the latest phase of the Energy for Londoners initiative yesterday, detailing plans to invest £34m in a range of new services and programmes designed to boost energy efficiency and improve access to clean power across the capital. Khan announced that a new £2.5m package would help address fuel poverty across the capital, offering households up to £4,000 in Warmer Home grants to fund improvements such as new boilers, heating controls and insulation.
Transport for London (TfL) is to install 1.1MW of new solar capacity on a variety of its buildings after awarding Engie a contract to carry out the work following a competitive tender process. The £4.5 million refurbishment programme will see the transport operator expand its solar power usage and install energy efficiency measures across a variety of TfL owned buildings, including bus stations and offices.
A book looking at the role of community renewable energy projects in the UK. It examines the history of community renewable projects and the different types of project that have been successful and unsuccessful.