Archive for the ‘Trading Company’ Category

Turbine’s are down

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This is what three Westwind turbines look like when they’re crated up.

Yesturday, West Coast Energee arrived to take down the turbine at the community recycling site. The machine is heading back to Ireland for refurbishment. It’s been operational for 18 months now and in this time the manufacturer has improved the design. Community Energy Scotland have arranged for a number of Westwind machines to return to the factory and all be brought up to the current specification. The trailer contains the machines from Galson, Back and Barvas. Our machine was also added to the collection.

This time, to speed up the process, the engineers used a mini-digger to help lowering the tower. Normally, JDs battered old LandRover gets tied to a ground anchor and they use the winch mounted on the bumper. Instead, a long cable was attached to the digger, and as it slowly advanced towards the tower, the turbine came down. We took advantage of having the digger on site to put some stone down in the soft bits of ground. The Landrover nearly got stuck in the peat the last time the tower came down. The access track gets very soft in the Winter.

We are now hoping for a calm few weeks whilst the machines are down. The Urgha site is now being more careful with its electricity. We now have to pay for everything we use. Let’s also see if anyone notices that the turbine and tower are down!

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Goal post shifting

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Just  when you thought it was all going smoothly, everything changes once more.

Our hydro scheme has been on hold for fast-approaching a year, whilst the UK government contemplates changes to the Feed-in-Tariff. The consultation is now over and we now hope for a June closure to the process. In the mean time, we thought out of courtesy that we should tell SSE that we won’t be exporting electricity onto their grid this year as planned because of the review. The response was along the lines of “that’s OK, we weren’t going to connect you until 2015 anyway.” This came as a bit of a shock. Lurking in the small print of our connection offer is the phrase “subject to any transmission connection works”. This little phrase now relates to a £300M sub-sea cable between Lewis and Ullapool. It’ll carry 450MW of renewable energy to export to the south. We just want 0.0002% of that capacity! We’re told that at the moment, the grid in Lewis and Harris is full. So that’s no more renewable energy from Lewis & Harris in the next three years! So much for those European targets on renewable energy.

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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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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.

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Planning for Zero-carbon business units

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Last week, our architect submitted an application for planning permission to build our business units. The plans show three starter units on land adjacent to the showground on the Scalpay Road. The units are designed to fit in with the landscape and will be warm and light.

Have a look at the site plan HERE

All the plans will appear on the CnES Planning Portal shortly. Access this HERE quoting application reference: 11/000581 or alternatively, pop into the Trust office in Tarbert. All plans will be available for inspection.

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Hydro scheme update – November

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A short video giving an update on progress this year.

Hydro update Nov11 from North Harris Trust on Vimeo.

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Bunavoneader Hydro Scheme update

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It’s nearly five months since the last update on our hydro scheme. Since then we have been beavering away, trying to get the finance in place to build the scheme. We have a loan offer from the Co-op Bank, but it’s only for 67% of the project cost. This is a lot less than we had anticipated. This leaves us to source a further £200,000.

The rules for the government’s Feed-in-Tariff scheme have changed over the last year -this is the scheme that will pay us for creating green energy. It no longer allows the use of public funding for such community schemes. This is now regarded as a State Aid, which would give us unfair advantage over more commercial organisations. So, we are left to source the additional funding from private trust funds or commercial lenders.

Our first port of call was to the Bank of Scotland. Since it was established in 2003, the North Harris Trust has banked with BoS. We asked them for a secured loan for the hydro-scheme – and they refused us! Despite eight years of “in-credit” banking and huge assets to borrow against, despite the government putting pressure on banks to lend to small businesses – they said no. So we are now exploring every other avenue open to us, to source private funding to make the scheme happen.

The good news though is that we now have a Licence from SEPA to extract our water from our river.

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Zero-carbon progress

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Today we received some great news. HIE have offered us a grant for 50% of the next stage of developemnt.

If you recall, last year we had a feasility study carried out into the viability of Business Starter Units in North Harris. The next stage is to get the Architect to draw up more formal plans and tighten up the costs for the project. We have now instructed AffordableTM, the architects to start work on this. Over the next few months, they will prepare the planning application for two units on the site at Urgha.

In the mean-time, with the demise of the Old Hostel building  fast approaching, we have had a number of enquiries about the units. Unfortunately we can’t meet the October demolition deadline – but it is encouraging to know there is interest in our little project.

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Stornoway Gazette Article – Monan

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An article reproduced from the Stornoway Gazette.

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Bunavoneader Hydro Update

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Since we last posted about the scheme, after a long and thorough tendering process, we have appointed Ross-shire Engineering, from Muir of Ord to progress the build of the scheme. They have plenty of experience delivering hydro schemes and have electrical, mechanical, civil engineering and hydro skills -all in house.We are waiting on SEPA to grant the CAR licence, but most importantly for the finance package to be completed. We have held discussions with the banks, and hope to have a firm offer on the table any day now. There is still a gap to fill, as the banks will only go to 85% of the costs. That’s now the priority.

So we just have to finalise the finance, and then we can start building !

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