A community wind turbine on Barra could be one of the most productive in Western Europe due to the incredible wind resource on the island.
The turbine has been installed at Gòb Sgùrabhal, the most north westerly point of the Isle of Barra, and promises to be one of the most productive 900kW turbines in Western Europe thanks to the incredible wind resource on the island.
Pioneered by the islanders who have formed Coimhearsnachd Bharraidh agus Bhatarsaidh, a community company, the £2.2m project has been funded by the UK’s leading sustainable bank, Triodos Bank N.V and through vital subsidies from the Scottish Government.
Project leader, Euan Scott, comments on the commissioning of the turbine: “It has been a long journey, involving lots of hurdles but it has definitely been worth it. By using local companies and individuals where possible the project has not only built capacity on the island but also maximised the economic benefit to the local community during construction phase. The turbine when commissioned will provide revenue for years to come which will help to address practical needs on the island such as providing funding towards building an all-weather sports pitch or supporting social and respite services for the elderly and providing grants for young people so they can more easily travel to events and courses on the mainland. The community as a whole will have their say on how they want to see the money spent emphasising the fact the wind turbine is a community owned and managed asset.”
Triodos Bank has been involved with the Barra project since 2008 and has provided ongoing, hands on support.
Norrie Cruickshank from Triodos Bank’s Environment Team explaind: “Most other banks would have run away from a project of this size and complexity. The technical element and logistics around building the turbine at a location on the island where there is no pier were significant. But the community was incredibly motivated and deployed their best people to oversee the construction of a beach landing, using local contractors and therefore helping to maintain the local economy. The Barra and Vatersay project is just the sort of development that Triodos Bank loves to get behind when it can. It demonstrates unequivocally that collective ownership can deliver tangible benefits for the community.”
Local Councillor, Donald Manford, has watched the project unfold over the last eight years, he said: “The significance of this achievement cannot be overstated. The single-minded determination to succeed is a tribute to the entire community and our financiers, Triodos Bank, without which it could not have happened.”
Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, commented: “The people of Barra should be seen as an exemplar for other communities in Scotland. The community turbine – that the Scottish Government has been able to offer support to from our Community and Renewable Energy Scheme and Renewable Energy Investment Fund – shows the potential for sharing the rich rewards of our renewable energy resources amongst communities across Scotland.
“The Scottish Government CARES scheme aims to provide loans towards the high risk, pre-planning consent stages of renewable energy projects which have significant community engagement and benefit. CARES is leading the way across the UK in how we support local ownership of renewable energy.”