Islay Wind Turbine at Castlehill near Glenegedale

The Islay Energy Community Benefit Society (IECBS) has successfully raised the £1.27 million needed for investment in its community wind project. £535,000 was raised by the Islay Energy Community Benefit Society (IECBS) share offer which closed on 31st March, and the remaining £735,000 has been secured as a loan from the Scottish Government's Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF). This is believed to be the first community wind project in Scotland to be part-funded by a community benefit society.

IECBS plans to install a single 330 kW Enercon E33 wind turbine, height 61 metres from ground to blade tip, on a site leased from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) located near Castlehill, Isle of Islay. On average, it will generate electricity equivalent to the yearly consumption of around 300 homes, and will save about 600 tonnes p.a. of CO2 emissions. 5 years of development work on the project was carried out by the Islay Energy Trust (IET), supported by Community Energy Scotland, the Scottish Government's Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) and Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), SNH and IET. The Big Lottery Fund also contributed through a grant for the cost of the grid connection upgrade. Continue reading...

The wind turbine is scheduled to be commissioned by the end of November 2014. When operational, the Project is expected to yield financial benefits for the community of £60-80,000 p.a., or up to £2.5million over the 20-year life of the project (allowing for inflation). The community benefit funds will be distributed by the Islay Energy Trust (IET) on Islay, Jura and Colonsay in accordance with its charitable objectives. These include development of more community-owned renewable energy projects, provision of advice on energy efficiency, and grants/loans for relief of fuel poverty and annual grants to local voluntary and charitable organisations.

Jenni Minto, Secretary of IECBS, said: "We are delighted with the fantastic response to the share offer. 80% of applications came from Islay, Jura and Colonsay residents, and the amount raised was well beyond our expectations. We are also very grateful to Scottish Enterprise which has provided the balance of the funding needed from the Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF), and to all those organisations and people who supported the development work."

Andrew Smith, head of REIF said: "This is a really exciting project which illustrates the potential for renewable energy in supporting local communities in more remote locations. In fact a key part of REIF's remit is to support initiatives such as this, which offer support at a local level, while contributing to Scotland's growing reputation as a global centre for the development of innovative technologies and projects in renewables"

Iona McDonald, Local Energy Scotland CARES Development Officer added, "We are delighted with this result of sustained hard work over several years by members of the Islay community, backed with support from CARES, and we look forward to seeing the wind turbine going up later this year."

Highlands and Islands Enterprise's Kerrie Grant, Head of Strengthening Communities commented, "HIE is overjoyed that the support we have provided to Islay Energy Trust through account management over the past three years has resulted in the successful development of the IECBS and the future delivery of a community wind turbine. This, together with a number of other projects currently being delivered by IET, will provide excellent benefits to the communities of Islay, Jura and Colonsay and contribute towards the sustainability of IET. Congratulations to all involved!"