As Paul Wheelhouse, Minster for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands pointed out in a report published by Friends of the Earth Scotland, shared ownership of renewable energy is an important example of partnership between industry and local communities that supports community development, low carbon energy generation and – importantly – the local economy. The Scottish Government wants 50% of all renewable energy projects to include an element of shared ownership by 2020 in addition to the 1GW target for community and locally produced energy and – among other developments – in 2017 gave the green light to the 50-turbine South Kyle Wind Farm, allowing Swedish energy company Vattenfall to accelerate discussions with communities in East Ayrshire and north Galloway, offering them a right to buy up to 5% in the £190m, 170MW project. Vattenfall announced that it will provide a community benefit fund of £5,000 per MW installed per year over the South Kyle’s operational lifetime and 150 local businesses initially registered their interest. Fintry Renewable Energy Enterprise Limited (FREE) entered a joint venture agreement with Falck Renewables, the first partnership of its kind in the UK, then formed Fintry Development Trust (FDT) which is governed by a board of local residents. The Trust has now been running for over ten years and in that time has earned around £750,000 from the relationship with Earlsburn Windfarm. This money has been used to fund and facilitate a wide variety of energy-focussed initiatives in the community such as handing householders grants for carbon-reducing measures, providing an outdoor classroom and solar panels for Fintry Primary School, installing a woodchip-fuelled district heating scheme for 25 homes, trialing a rural car and cycle club and securing staff to provide energy advice and manage the individual initiatives. The Trust continues to develop pioneering energy saving projects, such as a ground source district heating system for 19 more homes in 2019.
Herald 23rd Jan 2019 read more »