A £60 million funding boost for smaller-scale renewable-energy projects has been announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable.
The first project to benefit from the new cash will be a hydro-power scheme about 10 miles north of Loch Lomond.
The UK Green Investment Bank is making up to £50 million available to help community-scale renewable energy projects, with the Strathclyde Pension Fund investing a further £10 million.
Albion Community Power, which already builds and operates community-scale energy initiatives, will be responsible for allocating the cash.
The funding could help as many as 30 projects across the UK, generating approximately 24 megawatts of electricity - enough to power some 17,500 homes.
The scheme will provide between £1 million and £10 million of equity funding for initiatives such as new hydro-power schemes and setting up wind farms on brownfield sites such as industrial estates.
The first project to be announced is a run of river hydro power scheme on the River Allt Coire Chaorach near Crianlarich, Stirling, approximately 10 miles north of Loch Lomond.
The £8.5 million initiative by Green Highland Renewables could produce enough energy to power 1,900 homes and is the first investment in hydro power that has been made by either the Green Investment Bank or the Strathclyde Pension Fund.
Speaking ahead of a visit to the Green Investment Bank headquarters in Edinburgh, Mr Cable said: “Renewable energy is the future and we must continue to use all of the new and established technologies at our disposal to power our homes and businesses in a way that doesn’t damage the environment.
“Hydro power has a vital role to play in this. The first project to be funded from a new investment by the Green Investment Bank will use the natural flow of Scotland’s rivers to generate electricity.
“This project, based in Crianlarich, will produce enough power for nearly 2,000 homes and provide high-skilled jobs for the rural communities in Scotland.”
The Business Secretary added that the new funding scheme showed “the Green Investment Bank is at the heart of our industrial strategy, creating sustainable jobs and growth”.
Lord Smith of Kelvin, chair of the UK Green Investment Bank, said: “The UK is in the process of transforming how it generates its power.
“In future we will see less reliance on a small number of large power stations and more focus on a network of smaller, locally-generated, renewable sources of power.
“Hydro is one example of how we can do this and we are delighted to play our part in helping this market grow, bringing investment to rural communities along the way.”
Councillor Paul Rooney, chair of Strathclyde Pension Fund, said: “There are many great opportunities to generate sustainable, renewable energy at a community level, including here in the West of Scotland - but it can be difficult for even the best-structured projects to access good long-term finance.
“I’m pleased that Strathclyde Pension Fund will be providing funding to innovative projects that might otherwise have been frozen out of the market - and that the investment made by our members in their own future will support the future of our communities, through improved infrastructure and jobs.”
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