9 Dec 2009, 6:41 PM
A community windfarm owned by the Westray Development Trust has won the Scottish Green Energy Award for Best Community Initiative. The Trust, which works to benefit a population of 600 living on the remote Orkney island of Westray, won the award for their pioneering community wind turbine project. The 900 kW turbine, which is wholly owned by the island community, will generate around 3500 MWh per year.
The project was completed in October this year and is underpinned by a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) from SmartestEnergy, one of the UK's main purchasers of renewably generated electricity. The PPA will provide the community with an annual income in the region of £300k, significantly boosting the island economy.
The Best Community Initiative Award recognizes initiatives that have been led and developed by a community and have wide community support and involvement. Alasdair McVicar, Director of the Westray Development Trust who collected the award at a ceremony in Edinburgh, said: “We are delighted to have won in this category. Many residents have put a huge amount of time over a long period to get us to where we are today. The money generated by the turbine will play a major role in developing other sustainable initiatives on the island".
“We get a lot of wind around here. That’s a problem for some people, but obviously not in this case,” added David Stephenson, also from the Trust. “The income from the wind turbine will enable the Trust to employ staff and develop projects for the benefit of the community.”
Similar Power Purchase Agreements have been drawn up for a number of independent renewable electricity generators across the UK, allowing communities and individuals to get the best possible deal and the most attractive returns for the electricity over a number of years.
Iain Robertson, the company's Business Development Manager for Scotland, said: “We are delighted that the Westray turbine project has won this award. We’ve been in regular contact with the developers here from the early stages of their projects, to help understand their needs and how we can tailor our offerings for them. Orkney has some of the best renewable resources in the UK and we are proud to be able to help the local people benefit from them.”
Project finance was provided by Triodos Bank and the Lottery.
Marks and Spencer has recently agreed to buy renewable energy for its Scottish stores. The renewable energy contract will be sourced from independent Scottish generators including the Westray turbine. The contract represents the first agreement of its kind, as SmartestEnergy can secure renewable power that can be tracked from source to supply because it is backed by certificates guaranteeing the origin of power. Through these contracts, the company directly supports local small scale independent generators and gives them a route to market for their electricity.
Dr. McVicar said, “Marks & Spencer is leading the industry with its Plan A initiative and we are proud that our community turbine project is contributing to this pioneering move towards a low carbon future”.