Representatives from 20 Community Trusts throughout the Islands are taking part in meetings to look at providing a positive renewable energy future for communities.
Both installed generators and groups - at various development stages - have joined forces to ensure a stronger voice in the upcoming Remote Island Wind Review.
The meetings, facilitated by Community Energy Scotland (CES), have focused on a range of topics including the need to respond to the UK Government consultation on ‘Treatment of non Mainland GB Onshore Wind Projects’, which is inviting responses until the end of January.
This consultation is seen to be crucial for the future of the proposed interconnector.
Community energy has an essential role to play in any decisions made in local, regional and national politics and community projects are urged to respond to this consultation.
Community projects to date have shown the life-changing impact they can have on an area such as the Western Isles.
Current installed community generators are estimated to provide a total cash boost of up to £1.8million annually into the local economy once they have been running for about two years.
The 20 groups are also in the process of trying to secure funding for a Grid Analysis of the Western Isles.
This study will assess the extremely high grid connection estimates they received from Scottish and Southern Energy Networks to connect to the distribution network.
It will also look at what options there are for more localised options to be installed throughout the islands.
Kathleen MacDonald from CES states: “We need to ensure that there are renewable energy options available to these community groups as, at the moment, regardless of whether the interconnector comes, it is not looking viable for smaller projects to be able to connect.
“The consultation is one way to have our communities voices heard.
“The grid study is another option of looking at what could be done with our local grid network, although it will need the co-operation of Scottish and Southern Energy Networks; something which they say they will provide.”
In order for community groups to be able to install projects there must be a detailed look at how the local infrastructure can be upgraded or adapted to ensure that communities can connect locally.
To find out more information about the ‘Treatment of non Mainland GB Onshore Wind Projects’ consultation go to: website