Onshore Wind contributing £5 million a year to Scotland in Community Benefits

It was announced this week that onshore wind energy developers in Scotland are contributing over £5 million per annum in community benefits. The news was announced by the trade body Scottish Renewables in the run up to the Scottish Renewables Onshore Wind Conference which was held yesterday in Glasgow.

Community Benefits in Scotland are registered on the Holyrood Government’s online Community Contribution Database which was launched in September 2012 by Alex Salmond.

As of now, over £5 million worth of annual contributions are registered from onshore wind. A figure which is certain to increase.

Community Benefits come in many different forms. For example, E.ON Energy’s Rosehall fund awarded £20,000 over three years to the Woodland Trust. This funding has been specifically targeted at the Ledmore & Migdale Woods in East Sutherland. The RES Group development in Meikle Carewe, Aberdeenshire, has led to the creation of the Local Energy Discount Scheme; designed to reduce the energy bills of homes and businesses in the area.  RWE npower invested over £407,000 in a variety of community benefit programmes in 2012. The Causeymire Wind Farm in Caithness is providing direct funding to the Halkirk Playgroup and Toddler Group. One renewable energy developer has donated £100,000 to the restoration of the Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy. Perhaps the most prominent example which has been in the news recently is that of the Biggar Museum Trust which has received a substantial amount of funding to construct a new museum building; as discussed in this blog previously.

The news of the level of funding Scotland’s wind industry is supplying was greeted with acclaim by government, industry and campaign groups.

Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Fergus Ewing commented; “It is clear to see the huge benefits that wind turbines, and the renewable energy sector, are bringing to communities across Scotland.”

Joss Blamire, Senior Policy Manager for industry trade body Scottish Renewables released the following statement:

“It’s fantastic to see that onshore wind developers are working directly with communities to provide local causes in Scotland with more than £5 million in voluntary funding every year. We believe this figure will be much higher as we encourage every developer to sign up their schemes and as new schemes become operational. It’s hard to imagine any other industry being able to offer anywhere near this kind of commitment to local communities.

Community benefit isn’t just a financial transaction, it can be provided through a variety of means. In some cases the relationship between developer and community goes even further into commercial joint ventures and even complete community ownership.

“We know our members are providing communities with a range of opportunities to invest in projects and initiatives that really matter to them. For example, we’ve seen major investments in local museums, support for baby and toddler groups, college bursaries and even funding for a community transport scheme.”

“These packages are totally voluntary and are not taken into consideration when local authorities are making decisions on an individual planning application. Onshore wind developers have been working with local communities to offer community benefit as a means of sharing the value of their project over its lifetime while tailoring benefit to meet their needs.”

WWF Scotland Director Lang Banks remarked:

“It’s fantastic news that so many communities are already benefiting from Scotland’s rich renewable energy resource.

“If Scotland is to meet it’s 100% renewable ambition then it’s vital that wherever possible local communities are given the opportunity to benefit too.

“One benefit we’d like to see more of in Scotland is direct ownership of wind turbines by communities. Such schemes have helped drive the roll-out of renewables elsewhere in the world, so it’s only right we do the same here.”

Of course whilst much of the media attention has been directed towards the community benefits provided by large scale wind farms; medium scale developments are also contributing a large amount.

For example, we at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable  Energy) provide a community benefit for every single one of our consented developments (whether one is required or not). Often this takes the form of an annual contribution to charities operating at a local level. In other cases we enter into partnership with local authorities and allow them to direct the funding (as is the case with many of the community benefits stemming from large scale wind farms) using their local knowledge to  direct funding to where they think it is most needed. We at ILI (RE) are extremely proud of the help we are able to provide to worthy causes up and down the country.

It should be remembered that the £5 million figure being used in the media is only the start. This figure can be expected to rise dramatically over the next few months and years. The Community Benefit Register has been operating for less than a year. Onshore wind power can contribute far more than it has already achieved; just as it can for the nation’s energy generation targets and energy bills.

Biggar Museum to be funded by onshore wind

It was announced this week that the Biggar Museum Trust has been awarded £620,000 of funding from the Clyde wind farm community fund by South Lanarkshire Council. This funding means that the Trust will now be able to build a new facility to house Biggar Museum’s collection.

The Clyde wind farm community fund allocates approximately £800,000 annually to community and business projects in South Lanarkshire. As such the £620,000 awarded to the Biggar Museum Trust represents the largest single contribution made by the fund, administered by South Lanarkshire Council on behalf of SSE’s (Scottish and Southern Energy’s) Community Investment Programme. At least £20 million will be invested in South Lanarkshire over the 25 year life span of the 152 turbine, 350 Megawatt  Clyde Wind Farm.

Biggar Museum Trust has been trying for a number of years to develop a new facility. Currently the Trust’s collection, which has been being built up over the last 40 years, is currently scattered across a number of locations across Biggar. in 2012 the Trust had applied unsuccessfully for Lottery Funding but has now been able to secure a larger level of funding thanks to local renewable energy developments.

The new facility will be based at the former Stephens Garage on Biggar High Street. Estimates submitted as part of the funding application indicate that the new museum will bring in approximately £88,000 per year to the local economy. Upon receiving the news that the funding application had been successful James Dawney, Chairman of the Biggar Museum Trust, commented:

“We are absolutely delighted with this award. It represents a major element of the financing needed to build the new museum of Biggar and Upper Clydesdale, a project that will not only safeguard the future of Biggar’s unique collection but will also create a cultural hub for visitors and local people to connect with their heritage and enjoy a wide range of activities.”

Chair of South Lanarkshire Council’s Enterprise Services Committee, Councillor Chris Thompson, said: “This project is great news for the people of Biggar and the surrounding communities. Hopefully it will attract people from far and wide and allow them to see for themselves the impressive collection of artefacts the Trust has collected over the years.”

Ciara Wilson, SSE Community Investment Advisor, added:”SSE is proud to be backing a project of this calibre through our Clyde wind farm fund. The new museum has the potential to create significant economic benefits for the wider community by bringing new visitors to the area and supporting other local businesses in turn. It will be a great legacy for future generations.”

It should be noted that the Biggar Museum Trust was not the only project to be awarded funding from the Clyde wind farm community fund; nor indeed was the only fund to be allocated this week. For example the Clyde wind farm community fund also awarded £32,402 to the Rigside Playpark Group – a band of parents and local volunteers – to redevelop a playpark in the village of Rigside. Similarly the Douglas Playpark Group was awarded £46,185 to redevelop the Manse View Playpark

The Blacklaw Renewable Energy Fund (again administered by South Lanarkshire Council on behalf of ScottishPower Renewables) awarded £15,322 to the Fourth Royal British Legion to refurbish their premises in Blacklaw Village. New toilet and kitchen facilities will be installed as part of this refurbishment. Funding was also awarded to St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Hamilton to carry out refurbishment work. These are just some of the examples of the good work which is being facilitated, not just in South Lanarkshire but across the country, by renewable energy developments, particularly onshore wind.

Councillor Chris Thompson, the chair of the council’s Enterprise Services Committee, which approved the applications, observed: “All of the projects given approval today will have a real benefit for their community. I am delighted that such a wide range of them have received this support.

“We do of course have to thank the various wind farm operators as the money comes from them and we simply administer the funds on their behalf.”

Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) is pleased to be able to say that we are also contributing to South Lanarkshire Council’s renewable energy fund through the large number of consented developments we have in the area. We also look forward to increasing the level of this funding by increasing the number of developments we have consented in South Lanarkshire.

However, it must be pointed out that there numerous local authorities within Scotland that do not operate such funds. This is perhaps unfortunate as it can make the benefits renewable energy developments can bring to an area less visible. This is an issue that we hope the Scottish Government Community Benefit Register is rectifying.

In such areas, which do not have a council administrated fund, we at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) have made our own arrangements. Often in areas in which there is no obligation to offer a community benefit of any kind. Contributions are being made to community groups and local charities up and down the country, particularly in areas of child support and development. It is our belief that the benefits of local renewable energy developments should be directed at those most in need. The unsupported, marginalised and vulnerable. Medium scale single turbine developments such as ours not only mean that the benefits brought by feed-in-tariffs are not limited to large-scale landowners but that community benefits can go beyond construction and into vital local social support networks.

 

 

Scotland achieves Europe’s biggest carbon reduction

Last week new figures were published by the Scottish Government which have revealed the strides the country is taking in reducing carbon emissions. Ambitious targets were set by the current administration; as with renewable energy generation.

The released statistics show that carbon emissions went down by 9.9% in 2011 compared to 2010. This is the largest reduction on record. In 2010, Scotland was responsible for 56.9MtCO2e (metric tonnes of carbon emissions) being released into the atmosphere. 2011 saw 51.3MtCO2e being released into the atmosphere – a reduction of 5.6MtCO2e. These results ensured that Scotland retained its position as the most successful EU-15 member state (the EU-15 is composed of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the countries of the United Kingdom) in reducing its level of carbon emissions. Over the period 1990-2011 Scotland has successfully reduced carbon emissions by 29.6%.

Unfortunately, despite the record breaking nature of these emission reductions Scotland was unable to meet the revised target for 2011 by a narrow margin of 0.8MtCO2e. The Scottish Government attributed this to a revision of the historical data which was used to set carbon emission reduction targets in 2009. Spokespeople for the Government stressed that the country has been successful in meeting the reduction target for the year in percentage terms. The failure to meet the target in terms of carbon emissions themselves was wholly attributed to the revised and thusly increased levels of carbon emissions between 1990 and 2009. Had these figures been un-revised the 2011 target would have been exceeded.  It was emphasised that the 2020 carbon emission target is still absolutely achievable and as of this point in time the country will have to reduce its level of carbon emissions by 44% over the next seven years. Scotland is over halfway there.

Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Government Minister for Environment and Climate Change announced the release of the data with the following statement:

‪“Latest statistics published show that Scotland is on course to meet our climate change targets.

“In 2011 unadjusted emissions fell by 9.9 per cent – the largest year-on-year drop since records began. They also show large decreases in greenhouse gas emissions in the energy supply, residential and public sectors.

“The long term trend shows we will achieve our world-leading target of a 42 per cent emissions reduction if we continue on the course we have set. I also welcome that Scotland continues to lead the EU15 on emissions reductions.

“Despite changes to the historical data on emissions, making this year’s target harder to achieve, we have come within touching distance of it, and the revised targets mean we will all need to focus our efforts in the future to stay on course.

“Whilst I am disappointed we have not achieved our climate change reduction goal for 2011 in carbon terms, we have met it in percentage terms – with a 25.7 per cent reduction between 1990 and 2011. If the baseline had not changed the target would also have been met in carbon terms.”

Responses to the information were perhaps somewhat muted but optimistic for the future. Dr Sam Gardner of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland commented:

“We recognise that this is due in part to complicated changes in how we count our emissions, but the headline of another missed target strongly underlines the need for the much tougher climate action plan – expected out later this month – that will drive down emissions year on year and give confidence that future targets can be met.”

There was further good news in other aspects of the countries long term energy strategy. For instance, nearly two thirds (65%) of homes in Scotland were ranked ‘good’ in terms of energy efficiency. This represents an increase of 15% since such data was last collated in 2007.

Additionally, Scotland is ahead of schedule in meeting the 2020 target for 100% of the country’s electricity needs to be generated from renewable sources. Provisional data indicates that in 2012 38.7% of Scotland’s electricity needs were generated using renewable sources. Given that the first marine and tidal tubine farms will begin feeding electricity into the national grid over the course of the next few years and the increasing prevalence and popularity of onshore wind then one one would expect the 2015 interim target of 50% of electricity needs to be generated from renewables to be exceeded as well.

Responding to these comments Scottish Government Energy Minister Fergus Ewing (who was involved in a round-table discussion with our Chief Executive Mark Wilson last week) commented:

“2012 was another record year for renewables in Scotland.  Scotland also contributed more than a third of the entire UK’s renewables output, demonstrating just how important a role our renewable resource is playing in terms of helping the UK meet its binding EU renewable energy targets.

“We remain firmly on course to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020 – with renewables generating more than enough electricity to supply every Scottish home.”

With the Scottish Government also announcing increased support for wind power it is clear that the country is committed to carbon emission reduction and renewable energy. ILI (Renewable Energy) will continue to do it’s part in contributing to the fulfillment of these targets and keeping energy bills down for consumers by reducing dependence upon fossil fuel imports

ILI (Renewable Energy) at the Hypothesis Conference

We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) are delighted to announce that our Chief Executive Officer Mark Wilson will be appearing on the discussion panel of the Opening Plenary Session of the 10th annual Hypothesis Conference at Herriot Watt University on the 11th of June.

The Hypothesis Conference is being held on the 11th and 12th of June.

The Conference, which is being sponsored by the Scottish Government, will bring together attendees from more than 40 different countries to discuss hydrogen and fuel cells in-depth. Particular focus will be given to the role that Hydrogen Energy Storage will have on the Renewable Energy Industry over the next years.

It is expected that hydrogen storage will play an increasingly important role in the renewables industry as economies move away from traditional fossil fuel generation. For example, hydrogen has been touted as the transport fuel of the future. Increased use of hydrogen and battery power in automotive transport will be hugely important to meeting carbon emission reduction targets across Europe and the wider world.

Our CEO, Mark Wilson, will participate in the conference’s opening session alongside several leading political and industrial figures. The session will be chaired by Elizabeth Johnson, Director of the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association and Business Development Manager for Pure Energy. Other participants include Fergus Ewing MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Sue Bruce, Chief Executive Officer for Edinburgh City Council, and Paul Lucchese, President of NERGHY (European Research Association on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells), Project Manager at CEA (Commissariat á l’energie atomique et aux énergies alternatives) and co-author of ‘Hydrogen, the post-oil Fuel?’. A prestigious panel across the board.

We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) feel we have a complete familiarity with the issues facing the UK’s renewable energy industry in terms of grid access and capacity. There are renewable energy developments across the country that may not be able to proceed due to there being no available or economically viable grid capacity.  But there are solutions available or being developed. Hydrogen could be a game changer for such developments; whether being produced to store energy for use elsewhere or being used as a transport fuel. Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) itself has a number of renewable energy sites under development where hydrogen is intended to play a key role. For example; in areas of the country such as the Inner Hebrides where grid access and capacity is severely limited. Such developments will be at the forefront of increasingly utilised off-grid solutions for renewable energy and will be essential to achieving both UK and Scottish Government renewable energy targets.

We are proud not only of our representation at the Hypothesis Conference but also the role we will to play in bringing it’s aims to fruition.