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Pioneering community hydro project secures investment package

Community teams-up to get hydro project of the ground

01-04-2014 | One of Scotland's first community developed and wholly owned hydro scheme is to secure a finance package of £1.9 million.

The funding will enable the construction of the pioneering low carbon project in the heart of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park on land managed by Forestry Commission Scotland.

The Callander Community Hydro Ltd (CCHL) secured finance from Triodos Bank, Scottish Enterprise's investment arm, the Scottish Investment Bank and Social Investment Scotland to develop a hydro plant generating renewable energy which will be sold into the national grid and generate income for the local community.

The scheme aims to generate around 1,300,000 kW hours of energy per year, enough to provide electricity for approximately 300 average homes and, when operational, is expected to be able to deliver up to £2.85 million over a 20 year timeframe which will support a range of Callander community projects.

Energy Minister , Fergus Ewing announced the funding package today, 5 March 2013, during his keynote speech at the CARES conference in Glasgow, commenting on the deal Mr Ewing said: "Our ambition is for all communities across Scotland to share in the rich economic and social rewards of our country's outstanding renewable resources.

"I am delighted to announce today a loan of £311,000 to Callander Community Hydro Ltd from REIF. The community had also previously benefited from a CARES pre-planning loan of £141,000. 

"This is an important milestone for the community and takes it a step closer to owning and operating a hydro project, in a National Park , that will deliver community benefits of up to £2.85 million over a 20 year period.  The money from the project will be reinvested back into the community helping it to become stronger and more sustainable."

The scheme will be sympathetically constructed on land managed by Forestry Commission Scotland and is located north west of the picturesque village of Callander in Perthshire.  The system will divert water from a river down a hidden pipeline into a turbine to produce power before being returned to the stream down river.

Frank Park, Chair if CCHL said: "We are thrilled to be leading the way in community hydro electric projects and are delighted to be supported by the funding announced today. This funding allows the construction of the project and is the final stage in this ambitious community project but only the start of the dream for Callander. 

"Key priorities for the community are identified in the Callander Community Action Plan which and the end objective of this project is to plough profits back into these community projects. We come a step closer to that becoming a reality today. We have grateful for the previous financial support through CARES funding and LEADER to get to this point and to the support from a large number of organisations and people who helped us along the way."

Steve Moore, relationship manager at Triodos Bank who has granted the lion share of the project finance comments: "This is the latest of a number of pioneering community owned renewable energy projects financed by Triodos Bank, and we are particularly pleased that the Callander community is utilising the great potential of hydro power and paving the way for other community groups to follow suit."

Head of the Renewable Energy Investment Fund, Andrew Smith , commented: "The Callander Community Hydro project is really trailblazing community owned renewables within Scotland's national parks.  Not only will the project deliver significant economic benefits for the Callander community but it will deliver environmental benefits and support Scotland's transition to a low carbon economy by producing energy in a sustainable way.  We are pleased to be able to support the scheme alongside Social Investment Scotland and Triodos and look forward to seeing the project being developed."

Alastair Davis, Chief Executive, Social Investment Scotland , said: "Social Investment Scotland is delighted to be supporting this project. In recent months we have supported a number of communities across Scotland who have carried out community renewable energy projects and this project in calendar is particularly exciting- not only because of the obvious environmental benefits but also for the way in which it will empower the local community to invest in a sustainable way in a range of community initiatives."

Chris Morris, Local Energy Scotland said: "This project began life with an early stage grant and development officer support - to help guide it towards a finance ready stage - from the Scottish Government's CARES programme. Callander Community Hydro Ltd is demonstrating exactly what can be achieved by innovative ideas and utilising the expertise and funding available to help. More communities and rural businesses should use this as an example of how to make renewable energy work for both the environment and the community. Local Energy Scotland is really excited to see this project finally come to fruition after lots of hard work and dedication by the Callander community.  Well done Callander!"

Simon Hodge, Chief Executive Forest Enterprise Scotland said: "This is an excellent project and we are pleased that the National Forest Estate is being used to provide renewable energy and very importantly benefiting local communities at the same time.

"Across Scotland, we are working with a number of energy companies to develop small scale hydro schemes. There is a growing interest from communities in these developments and we are assisting them in reaping the benefits."


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