The operators of the UK’s largest community wind farm, Point and Sandwick Power, have called for 40MW of national grid space to be ring-fenced for community energy projects in the Western Isles.
Councillor Angus McCormack, the Chairman of Point and Sandwick Power, made the comments following the announcement that marine energy company Aquamarine has gone into Administration.
Aquamarine has 40 MW of space reserved on SSE’s proposed inter-connector to the islands, and Mr McCormack has called on the local council (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar), the Scottish Government and the National Grid to ensure the space to be vacated by Aquamarine is ring-fenced for community energy projects rather than being sold on to private or corporate developers.
Mr McCormack said: “There is little point in spending £750 million on a new inter-connector to the islands if the only beneficiaries are going to be big corporate developers from the US, France and elsewhere. It is essential and urgent that the council and the Scottish Government focus on making the inter-connector work for communities as well as for the multinationals.
“The unfortunate demise of Aquamarine can have a silver lining for the islands if the 40MW of space that they have reserved on the grid is now released and ring-fenced for community energy projects.
“This won’t happen, however, unless the council and the Scottish Government lobby the National Grid to amend the rules to allow it.
“I am saddened that the pioneering work of Aquamarine has turned out to be in vain but it does present an opportunity to reset the whole debate on the proposed new inter-connector by specifically ring-fencing the space now available for community energy groups.
“We know from the fantastic success of the existing 22MW of community energy in the Western Isles that they deliver much more benefit to local communities and to the local economy that private or corporate developments. The 40MW coming available would allow us to double the community share and serve as an ideal platform for further increases in the future.”