A new community energy unit has been established for the Highlands and Islands to help community groups who are interested in developing projects powered by Renewable Energy or gaining an income from Renewable Energy generation.Highlands, Scotland, United Kingdom – December 20, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] The unit has been established by Highlands and Islands Enterprise as part of the Scottish Executive’s Scottish Community Renewables Initiative (SCRI). It will act as a specialist resource working to promote Renewable Energy-based projects at the community level and provide advice and funding. The five-strong team is spread across the Highlands and Islands, with individuals working from Kirkwall, Golspie, Oban, Stornoway and Inverness. Jim Hunter, chairman of HIE said the new team has been established to help ensure that communities benefit from the tremendous opportunity presented by the area’s Renewable Energy resources. “There is a great deal of interest in Renewable Energy among community groups, whether to heat community facilities, generate electricity for local use or sell it to the national grid to gain an income,” said Hunter. “It is however a technical area and many people will need help to take their projects forward. The unit will provide this help and in doing so give a boost to the natural creativity of communities in the Highlands and Islands.” “We are available to voluntary, community and non-profit groups from all areas of the Highlands and Islands, who have an interest in developing Renewable Energy projects,” said Community Energy Unit manager, Eric Dodd. “We can help groups with funding for feasibility studies and actual projects, and will provide support during project development. The team has been contacting various groups and introducing themselves and already we are seeing some promising projects coming forward. We are very keen to hear from groups who are thinking about Renewable Energy schemes for their community.” The unit is keen to see a range of community projects, such as the installation of solar panels to heat water for the community hall, a community wind turbine or hydro station generating an income for the community, or the community taking a stake in a local wind farm. The unit is also looking to develop community projects that use, rather than just generate, Renewable Energy. These might be in the form of community transport, wood fuel drying or bio-fuel processing.