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Members' Bulletin - February 2016

News bulletin from Scotland's only national charity dedicated to supporting communities to develop their own sustainable energy projects.


Dear Member

Innovation in community energy is very much the theme this month with news of an exciting project called Tower Power, a pilot project in Edinburgh aiming to put disadvantaged tenants in control of their energy. Innovation is also to the fore in Orkney where we're exploring ways in which community generators could meet some of the energy demand on inter-island ferries and assisting Orkney Islands Council with a low-carbon ferries study.  Good news this month on our joint wind project with Berwickshire Housing Association which has reached construction stage with work beginning on the access track last month.  Our share in this project will in time generate funds for our charitable work and help to keep the charity sustainable in the longer term. Garve and District Community Energy in Wester Ross are taking forward a home energy scheme designed to help local residents address their energy needs. On the energy demand side, we're also leading a Third Sector Energy Focus project to support third sector organisations across Scotland with their energy issues. Read more below. 

Members' news

Horshader: Rural Support and Connect

Horshader Development Company in the Western Isles are energy generators with their community-owned wind turbine.  With part-funding from Scottish Government and Big Lottery they run a rural transport and handyman service to the community called 'Support and Connect'.  The scheme has over 166 members and employs a fulltime driver/handyman and a part-time adminstrator.   The group are now training their first team of volunteer drivers for their community-owned minibus.  The training ensures basic proficiency in driving the minibus and passenger safety. Manager, Angela Macleod said “By having a pool of volunteers, willing to give  their own time in service to their community, we are able to offer evening/weekend minibus services to the community as needed. This is our first team of volunteer drivers, with a second team being offered training later this month."

Some of the volunteers gain their certificates to drive the community minibus

Borders: After the flood

Burnfoot, a housing estate in the north of Hawick, in the Scottish Borders is moving forward with plans for an Anaerobic Digestion (AD) project with the formation of a newly constituted group.  They are also in discussions with the people developing the Hawick Flood Protection scheme with a view to installing heat distribution pipes alongside the new defence walls to simplify the installation. 

Floods-hit streets in Hawick

Maximising benefit to Wester Ross communities

Garve and District Community Energy in Wester Ross have embarked on a Home Energy Scheme to help all local residents, thanks to funding from the Lochluichart Community Trust.  The Trust was set up to administer Community Benefit funds associated with the Lochluichart Wind Farm. The Home Energy scheme led by Garve and District Community Energy, with support from Community Energy Scotland, is offering free home energy visits to local householders in the area to help identify suitable energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements, as well as providing information on funding through Scottish Government's home energy programmes.  The home visits are being carried out by Home Energy Scotland's advisers.  The Steering Group held a Warmer Homes Information Day at Garve Village Hall last month and will be running a similar event at Achnasheen Village Hall on 1 March. Another strand of the local Steering Group's work will be exploring the options for taking forward a community-led renewable energy project to benefit the wider community in the longer-term.  If your community is in receipt of Community Benefit funds from a renewable energy project and you want our support to ensure this income is used effectively locally, please get in touch with us at to discuss your options.

Garve and District residents join Warmer Homes scheme

Orkney: Building Local Energy Economies

The Surf 'n' Turf project in Orkney sees us working with members Eday Renewable Energy (who run Eday's community-owned wind turbine) and several partners to establish a hydrogen supply chain. Once the system is running, their wind turbine will harness more energy and in turn raise more revenue.  By providing its renewably-sourced hydrogen to a training facility, the foundations will also be in place for workers to gain the skills they need to use the hydrogen as transport fuel on land and sea.
Shipping is firmly the focus of the Low-carbon Ferries research study in which we are assisting Orkney Islands Council. The Council recognises that existing internal ferries use large amounts of fuel – with costs and emissions to match. If even one new vessel draws energy from a local renewable source, the potential to match up the numerous community generators with such a hefty demand would truly establish Orkney's local energy economy.

Orkney ferry MV Earl Thorfinn using its crane to lift cars onto the pier at Papa Westray.

Hoprigshiels: We're building for the future

We are delighted to report that our own joint venture wind project with Berwickshire Housing Association  reached a significant milestone in January with the first part of the access track now being laid.  This 3-turbine development at Hoprigshiels Farm in the Borders will be the first windfarm developed jointly by a Housing Association and charity in the UK.  Our wind farm will generate around 19gW of electricity a year providing income to support our charity work, as well as helping BHA’s tenants to reduce their energy costs.

Construction work begins on our wind turbine at Hoprigshiels in Scottish Borders 

Galashiels: Go with the flow

Energise Galashiels Trust, a community group set up to encourage regeneration and development within Galashiels, have been making plans to unlock the potential of the energy held in the waterways in the Borders. The aim is to revive the caulds and mill lades of the Gala Water as an energy source for Galashiels and develop hydro-electric generators on the river and on the historic lades in and around the town. Analysis of the various wheel pits has revealed some possible sites for the hydro generators and renovation work will need to be carried out on the historic energy infrastructure.

The Cormill fountain (left) and the Gala wheel pit (right)

Urban: Tower Power project

Community Energy Scotland is leading a hugely innovative project called Tower Power.  This project aims to end the inequalities of pre-paid meters and insecurity arising from costly electricity in disadvantaged households.  It puts communities in control of their energy, with collective bargaining power to negotiate cheaper electricity for everyone and equal tariffs  The first pilot project is at Dumbiedykes, a deprived area in urban Edinburgh with a mix of high rise and low rise housing and will demonstrate bulk-buying approach with onsite power generation, in this case using roof space for solar PV panels. We are working with Comas, a community development agency tackling poverty, the City of Edinburgh Council and Glasgow City Council, Tempus Energy and other technical and power suppliers. Tower Power will also be backed by 20 More, a project aiming to make every household better off, so it is embedded in activity which is already tackling food poverty and welfare benefits advice.

Measuring the social impact of Community Energy

We are working with Climate XChange in hosting a series of workshops to establish a method of assessing the non-economic social impacts of local and community energy projects. The Orkney workshop has already taken place but we have spaces available at the following workshops (11am - 3.30pm)
  1.   Glasgow, Maryhill Burgh Halls - Friday 26 February
  2.   Stornoway, Creative Industries Media Centre - Thursday 3 March
  3.   Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation - Wednesday 23 March
We want to engage individuals with a wide range of experiences of community energy projects across Scotland, including project practitioners, relevant fund managers, support organisations, policymakers, and researchers. If you want to take part in one of these workshop or want more information, please contact lead researcher Emily Creamer as soon as possible at

Energy needs for charities

We are developing additional support to help community organisations and charities across Scotland tackle high energy bills and cold, draughty workspaces. The Big Lottery funded project, called Scottish Third Sector Energy Focus, aims to get a better understanding of the energy-related issues faced by organisations, such as charities, social enterprises and community groups, and to help develop a programme of work that will address some of these issues. In future bulletins we will let you know how this project develops and how it could help your organisation.

Welcome to our new Members this month

Associate Membership
  • Enercon GmBH, Germany, world's 4th largest turbine manufacturer, long-established leader in field of wind energy.
  • Watterman Renewable Energy, Greenock, specialists in design, supply and installation of biomass heating systems, ground source heat pumps, solar thermal and PV systems.
Thanks also to all our Associate Members who recently renewed their membership. We are grateful for your continued support.



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