Wind Power

Commendations for Windfarm’s Profits that Finance Housing

Invested profits from the community-owned Isle of Gigha’s grid-connected windfarm, the only one of its kind in the UK, enabled completion of the first phase of a housing improvement program for its residents. For this contribution to the standard of living for the islanders, the Isle’s windfarm recently won three awards.

The wind tubines, switched on a year ago by local schoolchildren who call them ‘Dancing Ladies,’ have enabled the island to not only be self-sufficient in energy, but to sell electricity to the renewable energy company Green Energy UK. The island, able to export 25 percent to the national grid, is now on target to reach its goal of GBP159,000 (approx. USD$282,000) for the year, which would net a profit of GBP 60,000 (approx. USD$106,500) after expenses and loan repayments. “We are delighted with the way it’s worked out,” says Andy Clements, chairman of Gigha Renewable Energy, which was set up to build and manage the windfarm. “There have been no major faults. Our windfarm has generally run itself and made us a profit which we are ploughing back into vital projects such as refurbished housing for our community.” Green Energy UK’s approach to long-term sustainability resonates with the community’s aims. The company has pledged to give away half its company in shares to its customers and the Gigha Heritage Trust has also received shares. Any Gigha customer who converts to Green Energy UK also receives shares in the company. “Establishing a windfarm can be a fairly complicated business with SROCs (Scottish Renewable Obligation Certificates) and embedded benefits,” said Clements. “Green Energy UK was there from the beginning to advise and support…and even gave us a price increase in spite of our three-year contract with them!” Gigha has now become an authority on community-owned windfarms and its conference held last June with speakers from Green Energy UK, the planning authority, the construction company and technical advisors was so well attended by communities from all over Scotland and the UK that the Gigha Heritage Trust is considering holding another one next year.