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Villagers reap rewards of community owned wind turbine
27-11-2012 | From buying an iPad for a playgroup and floodlights for a tennis club to helping respond to medical emergencies, the income generated from a community wind turbine is already benefitting hundreds of residents of two Aberdeenshire villages.
Since the Udny Community Turbine began turning a year ago it has generated more than £120,000 in income. The turbine, which is financed by Triodos Bank, is the first wholly community-owned and operated wind turbine of its kind on the Scottish mainland.
So far £40,000 has been distributed to local good causes with a further £80,000 now in a reserve fund. Over the 20 year life span of the £1.45m turbine, up to £5m in profit is expected to be generated - equivalent to £2,000 for every resident of the Udny Green and Pitmedden villages who are benefitting from the turbine.
Iain Robertson of SmartestEnergy, which buys the electriticy generated by the turbine, said the Udny project demonstrates the potential of renewable energy schemes to support local communities. "Investing in renewable energy can generate significant long-term income streams to fund local projects at a grassroots level. With energy prices forecast to continue to rise, SmartestEnergy is seeing growing interest from communities looking to develop their own schemes."
Brian McDougall, chair of the Udny Community Trust which is responsible for distributing the funds, said he was delighted with progress so far. "We predicted the turbine would generate £100,000 in income so the first year has seen us do better than expected thanks to it being a windy winter.
"Udny’s story demonstrates how collective ownership can deliver diverse benefits for local communities," says Norrie Cruickshank, relationship manager in Triodos Bank’s environment team. "It’s a powerful example of what’s possible if people pull together to take control of their neighbourhood’s destiny, putting power and profits back into the hands of the community."
Local wind for local projects
So far the trust has been able to fund a wide range of organisations benefitting the local community. Among other projects, they've financed the Christmas lights switch on and provide all local children attending with a present of a selection box. The leasing of a vehicle for the Pitmedden First Responders, part of a rural service where volunteers attend incidents ahead of the ambulance service, is also being paid for.
The process developed by the trust for local groups to apply for funding is also attracting significant interest from other communities in Scotland developing renewable energy projects. "We developed the process ourselves and after a bit of refining now have a simple but effective system both for people to apply for funding and for applications to be assessed," said Brian.
There are now around 280 independent, commercial-scale projects across the country with a total capacity of 750MW - equivalent to a small conventional power station and enough to power more than 500,000 households.*
*Source: smartest energy