Two projects in Islay and Fintry will generate renewable energy and a source of income for their communities.
Islay Energy Community Benefit Society and the trading subsidiary of Fintry Development Trust both secured finance from the Scottish Investment Bank's Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF).
The fund, which operates Scotland-wide, promotes the use of energy from renewable sources and drives further investment into key areas of Scotland’s renewables industry.
Earlier this year, Islay Energy Community Benefit Society received a £735,000 loan to install a community owned, 330Kw wind turbine on the island, with the potential to power the equivalent of 300 homes.
Meanwhile, Fintry Development Trust, a body dedicated to making the village in Stirlingshire a zero-carbon, zero-waste community, has been supported with a £615,000 loan to help refinance a commercial agreement that gives the trust an income stream from nearby Earlsburn Wind Farm.
"Without the REIF loan, the project would have been delayed, or possibly even abandoned". Isabel Coughlin, Chair of the Islay Energy Community Benefit Society.
Island-based charity, the Islay Energy Trust, decided to install a wind turbine to harness the island’s natural resources and to financially benefit the community. Over the 20 year lifespan of the project, the turbine is expected to generate around £3 million for the communities of Islay, Jura and Colonsay.
With an expected capital cost of £1.4 million, the community rallied round to raise £535,000 from a local share issue and a further £180,000 from the Big Lottery Fund. Due to the small scale of the project commercial banks were reluctant to help, so the Society turned to REIF for support.
Isabel Coughlin, Chair of the Islay Energy Community Benefit Society said: “Without the REIF loan, the project would have been delayed, or possibly even abandoned. Delays would have pushed commissioning into a lower feed-in tariff regime, reducing the financial returns to the community. We're therefore extremely grateful to the Scottish Investment Bank for its support.”
Work should be completed in October, followed by commissioning and connection, with exporting of power starting in early December this year.
"Without support from REIF it would take much longer to realise our ambitions and we wouldn’t be able to take on a range of other projects in the village". Gordon Cowtan of Fintry Development Trust
Fintry Development Trust’s interest in the potential of renewable energy was ignited after the decision by Earlsburn Wind Energy, a subsidiary of green energy giant Falck Renewables, to create a 15 turbine windfarm at nearby Earlsburn.
The Stirlingshire community negotiated a commercial agreement with the windfarm developer, agreeing to pay £2.5 million towards the initial capital costs in return for a share of the net revenues generated by the windfarm.
The REIF funding enabled Fintry Development Trust to refinance the terms of its loan from Earlsburn Wind Energy. This will allow a greater share of income to be directly ploughed into local green energy projects, with the ultimate aim of creating a zero carbon, zero waste community.
Gordon Cowtan of Fintry Development Trust said: “Without support from REIF it would take much longer to realise our ambitions and we wouldn’t be able to take on a range of other projects in the village.
“Instead of money being paid out in interest, we’ll be able to help take people out of fuel poverty by giving them grants for energy saving measures.
“In the past, we’ve helped to pay for a new biomass boiler for the local sports club and we’re in the process of creating a neighbourhood biomass heating scheme for 20 houses.”
Anne Henderson, from the Scottish Investment Bank’s REIF team, guided both organisations through the funding application process. She said: “These two ambitious projects are great examples of one of the key areas REIF was established to support.
“As well as helping communities create sustainable projects that will bring significant local and national benefits, REIF is also delivering on the Scottish Government’s aims of supporting community and locally owned renewable energy schemes in Scotland.”
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REIF is delivered by the Scottish Investment Bank on behalf of the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Scottish Enterprise manage applications.