The first phase of Orkney’s community wind turbine scheme will go live on the islands this month, with farmers and landowners set to benefit from cheaper electricity for at least two decades.
Hamsin Wind is hoping to install over 60 onshore wind turbines at residential and commercial sites across Orkney by the end of 2015.
The company says up to 95 per cent of the energy generated by its turbines will be consumed on site, meaning as well as delivering year-round electricity, the energy can also be used to heat the home or domestic water supply.
The turbines generate the majority of their income from the UK Government’s 20-year, RPI linked Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) mechanism. The balance of income from the turbines on Orkney will be derived from power sales to the grid under a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA).
Hosts do not have to pay any money towards the turbine, its installation or future maintenance. Planning and capital costs are entirely covered by Hamsin.
Mr Cameron Garson from West Stove, Sandwick is one of the first hosts to be connected. He said that the installation of the wind turbine would make a considerable difference to his family’s living costs.
He explained: “The main farm, ‘Huan, Sandwick’, benefits from electricity produced by a C&F Green Energy 20kW turbine that was installed a few years ago, and we have seen the cost saving results that have been made on the farm because of this turbine.
“The Kingspan Wind 6kW turbine has now been installed on the second farm, ‘West Stove, Sandwick’, which is down the road from the main farm and will also supply us with free electricity. We hope that this will make us less dependent on the existing oil and central heating that we currently have in the house.”
Measuring no more than 20 metres high, the Kingspan Wind KW6 turbines are manufactured in Scotland and have been specially selected due to their ability to withstand high wind speeds, as well as being sympathetic to the surrounding countryside, grid connected and easy to erect.
In September, Scottish Equity Partners (SEP) announced that it would invest up to £9 million in Hamsin Wind to roll out approximately 200 small community based turbines at high wind speed locations in the Scottish Highlands and Islands.
Peter Bachmann, director at SEP, said: “Our investment into this project is the first from our Environmental Capital Fund which specialises in financing small-scale clean energy infrastructure projects.
“Scotland’s Highlands and Islands have vast renewable energy potential and Hamsin will help remote communities benefit from their local wind resource to generate green, low cost power. With the installation of a 6kW turbine the host is able to save up to £3,000 per annum in electricity costs. Orkney is already one of the world’s greenest islands in terms of renewable energy generation so it was a natural starting point for Hamsin.”
Hamsin has the potential to save over 5,000 tonnes per year of CO2 or over 100,000 tonnes over the life of the turbines, the equivalent of taking the emissions of approximately 20,000 cars off the road.
From planning through to installation at each site, Hamsin is investing in the local area and working with a number of local businesses to ensure the smooth running of the project. Engineers from Orkney Renewables are partnering with turbine specialists Hadrian Electrical Engineering to install the turbines and Kirkwall-based law firm Lows has advised on legal aspects of the project. Cooper Design and CAD Services provided support for the planning process.
Malcolm Archer, managing director of Hadrian Electrical Engineering, Hamsin’s installations and long-term operations and maintenance partner, said: “We have experience of working at sites all over the UK so we understand the value of having a local partner with excellent knowledge of the area. The team from Orkney Renewables have done a great job and we are looking forward to working with them over the coming months.”
Other development partners working on this project include Mistral Energy who have been identifying landowners and communities with suitable sites for turbine installation, ideally where the host has significant on-site power demand.