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.
Mongoose Energy has claimed to have completed the UK’s “largest ever” community energy deal by financing a 15MW solar-plus-storage project. The community energy specialist has completed the financing of Anesco’s Drayton Manor solar farm, based near Stratford-Upon-Avon, which comprises three separate arrays backed by revenue streams including feed-in tariffs and ROCs. All three arrays have had battery systems retrofitted. Two 1MVA/1.2MWh batteries and one 800kVa/1.1MWh battery have been installed by Anesco to complement the solar generation. Mongoose said the new financing deal would deliver nearly £5 million in local community benefits over its 20-year lifetime. The new deal takes Mongoose Energy’s solar portfolio to 80MW, and the supplier’s chief executive Mark Kenber insisted community energy remained “alive and kicking” in the UK.
June and July saw Community Energy Fortnight celebrate its fifth year. The annual event, supported by Co-operate Energy and The Climate Coalition, brings together different groups who are independently generating renewable energy. A total of 77 separate events were held up and down the country, projects which included the use of clean technologies such as solar, hydro, wind and biomass heat, all of which developed using community-serviced finance. The latest survey of England, Wales and Northern Ireland by Community Energy England identified 269 community activities from 222 organisations, 191 of which were focused on generating heat or electricity. The survey found 121MW of electricity generating infrastructure has been installed by community groups since 1997, generating 265 GWh of electricity. Community energy is now a clear contributor to the UK’s power demand, with benefits shared across the spectrum. It mobilises residents to reap the growing solar economic and environmental benefits at a local level. A proportion of the profits made are redistributed back into the community to fund local causes, projects and charities.