Posts Tagged ‘renewable’

Monan update

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Like many projects in the Western Isles, our Monan wind project is held up by grid issues. Anyone living in the isles will know about “the interconnector”. This is the new cable that will go under the Minch allowing energy generated in the isles to be exported to the mainland.

We are told that the Lewis and Harris electricity grid is full. There is no room for new generation. The interconnector will solve this issue – but not until 2015 at the earliest. There is still some risk that this 2015 date will slip. There’s a chicken and egg thing going on too. Large commercial developers don’t want to commit until the interconnector is definite. SSE don’t want to commit to installing the interconnector until enough commercial developers have signed up. This leaves community groups like ourselves stuck until the “big boys” sort it out.

Windflow Technologies, who we are working with on the project, have been in regular contact with SSE, trying to find an interim solution. Could we not just generate when its cold and there’s lots of demand? Surely, there must be some concession that can be made until the interconnector comes to allow generators on line, and start generating all that green energy both governments have commited to?

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The great wind turbine debate

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Last week, North Harris Trust was invited to take part in a debate on wind power. The S2 year-group were covering wind power in their Geography course work. They wanted to hear the arguments for and against this form of renewable energy. Having had some experience with wind projects, the Energy Development Officer was the obvious choice to talk in favour of wind power. Talking against wind-power was a difficult one. In the end, the Land Manager, who likes a good argument, volunteered. After hours on the internet, he pulled together a presentation with plenty of exploding turbines, to scare the pupils.

Following both sides of the debate, the floor opened for questions. Judging by the difficulty of the questions, the pupils took note of what we hope was a balanced argument. Now they can make their own minds up!

Turbines are go!

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Over the last couple of weeks, despite the gales, West Electrical has ploughed on with the installation of the two 5kW turbines at Scaladale. The machines were up last week, and now just need some final internal work to be completed. The hope is that before the end of the week, green energy will be flowing into the heaters at the Scaladale Centre.

This project was completed for the benefit of Lewis and Harris Youth Club Association, a registered charity, by a partnership between The North Harris Trust, Community Energy Scotland Trading and the Ardvourlie Grazings Committee.

Act now – warm up your winter

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A new energy-saving scheme is in the process of being launched by the Energy Saving Trust and CnES. It offers free insulation including underfloor insulation and draft-proofing. Unlike previous schemes, this one is non-contributory and non-benefits/age tested.

Also in the detail of the offer is a £600 voucher towards the replacement of old inefficient boilers. As before there is also access to an interest free loan for renewable heat and energy installations. This offers upto £4000 interest free for 8 years per technology.

All queries should be addressed to the HOME ENERGY HOTLINE on 0800 512012

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Community Renewables & Finance

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At last someone’s realised the difficulties community groups have funding renewable energy schemes these days. Since the introduction of Feed-in-Tariff for micro-generation projects, rules stop communities going down the usual route of securing grant funding from the likes of the Big Lottery and Climate Challenge Fund. This would apparently contradict the rules on State Aid to, in this case, the electricity industry. It is also driving more communities, cap-in-hand,  to the high-street banks; the banks that don’t really understand renewable energy.

The Sustainable Community Energy Investment Forum had its inaugural meeting last week in Edinburgh. The North Harris Trust was invited to attend. The forum brings together Academics, Communities, Government and Non-Government Organisations and Financiers. The workshop sessions sought to document the barriers faced by community groups. The hope is that they will be able to convince the banks that renewable schemes are not as risky as they think. The Government is guaranteeing 20 years of Feed-in-Tariff payments. How much re-assurance do they need?

Grasping an opportunity for North Harris

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In the current economic climate, it’s getting more difficult to obtain funding for renewable energy schemes. However, late last year an opportunity arose when the North Harris Trust was contacted by Community Energy Scotland Trading (CES-T). They have funding for a small number of 5kW wind turbines, and were looking for good wind sites to locate them. CES-T has been speaking with both Lewis and Harris Youth Club (LHYCA) and Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) about feeding electricity into some of their premises. The Trust, who manages the community land that the turbines would sit on, is doing some of the preparatory work for CES-T. CES have helped us with a number of our own North Harris projects in the past.

You may have seen the Screening Requests that were included in the Planning Application lists in November and December. These are a precursor to a planning application, and are used to seek opinions from the statutory bodies and from the public. The applications show three sites above the Scaladale Centre, and three sites above the HHP development at Seileamol. The sites at Seileamol were chosen to take into account the views of a number of local residents. The Scaladale sites have been chosen to reduce visual impact.

Once the Screening Opinions have been received from CnES, it is hoped that a full planning application can be submitted. We have had discussions with a number of residents but would like to hear from anyone who has any concerns before we progress either scheme.  Plans are available for viewing at the Old Hostel or if there is enough interest, a community briefing could be organised in the two townships. Please contact David Wake 01859 502222 at North Harris Trust for further information.

Interconnector Problems

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A cutting from this week’s Stornoway Gazette that highlights the problems that both community and commercial renewable energy schemes are facing in the Western Isles.

Whilst all the large community windfarm projects are stalled because of the inability of the grid to export renewable energy off the island – North Harris Trading have slipped under the radar with a 10kW machine that is now operational and exporting to the grid. Micro-generation is the way forward!…at least for the next 5 years until there is any prospect of a new interconnector to increase the grid capacity to the mainland.

Bunavoneader Hydro update

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Water turbine

It’s a good few weeks now since we had our offer of grid connection. That’s now signed and payed for. We managed to secure funding to cover this from the C.A.R.E.S pot. Community Energy Scotland, who manage this pot, have now had to close the fund to new applications. The cupboard is nearly bare! Let’s hope the Scottish Government renew the funding, despite the economic conditions. May be then, they’ll stand a chance of meeting the demanding targets they’ve set for renewable energy generation in Scotland.

The planning approval arrived at the end of August. There are no onerous conditions. We do however have to:  

  • use grey wet-dash render on the walls of the turbine house and dark red corrugated sheeting on the roof
  • ensure noise does not exceed a defined threshold

The planning documents are still available at: using reference 10/00302 

Now that planning is in place, we have been working on an Invitation to Tender. This is the specification for the design and build of the scheme. We hope to issue this at the start of October. We have compiled a list of suppliers from our previous contacts and the British Hydro Association’s web site. We are now in the process of contacting each company to ask if they would be interested in quoting. By the start of the new year, we hope to have appointed a preferred partner to help deliver this crucial income-generating scheme for the Trust.

Hydro Planning is underway

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Abhainn Eadarra

Today I wrote another big cheque to the council. Planning Permission is now being sought for the Bunavoneader scheme.

A big pack arrived yesturday from Fairhurst -the engineers. This included the four copies of all the drawings and backup information that must accompany the application. The planning fee is based on the area of the development and also accompanies the application. The application pack looks very professional (and weighty), and includes the following:

  • a 16 page supporting statement
  • seven plans and elevations
  • fish & aquatic impact assessment
  • otter survey
  • design statement
  • flood risk statement
  • correspondence with SEPA, SNH and Historic Scotland

It is now available to view on the Council’s Online Planning Portal, quoting reference 10/00302 :

If however you wish to see the documents in the flesh, then please call the Trust Office on 01859 502222 to arrange a convenient time. In the mean time, we all hope that the application will sail through the planning process with no further issues.