The DECC ( Department of Energy and Climate Change) has released figures for the second quarter of this year, that suggest the UKs energy mix is integrating more and more renewable and green resources. This has resulted in a 7.86 TWh contribution, a 50% rise on the same figures from last year.
Large and small scale schemes in Scotland have been key to this development, as Scotland has the largest renewable energy potential in Europe, 25% or the EUs capacity. This rise in production has been given a further boost from the introduction of nearly £4million worth of loans offered through the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES). These loans are designed to help communities across Scotland develop small scale, locally-owned renewable energy projects.
Examples of these funds in use are
– A Borders housing association which will use the proceeds to improve the houses it offers for rent
– A Highland charity which will become more financially sustainable thanks to a hydro scheme
– Two Edinburgh community groups who wish to erect a wind turbine at a sewerage works are among the recipients, as well as communities all over Scotland.
The loans will aid with development of 42 renewable energy projects in total, which will develop 56 MW of wind and hydro capacity. 29 of these projects are community owened, with the remaining projects developed by rural businesses and farmers. This will also aid the Scottish Government reach their target of 500MW of community and locally-owned renewable energy by 2020.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “These projects will not only help us meet our ambitious target of generating the equivalent of all Scotland’s electricity needs to come from renewables by 2020, but also benefit their local communities. We want every community in Scotland to share in the rewards of the green energy revolution, and the CARES loans are a practical way to make that happen.”
“All profits from the community-run schemes will remain with the communities, and all the schemes run by local businesses have committed to give at least 20 per cent of their profits back to the local communities, ensuring the benefits of Scotland’s natural resources are shared with everyone, as well as the jobs and opportunities the schemes will create.”
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead added: “Farmers understand the benefits to be gained from renewables, but have told me they are put off pursuing schemes by the expense of reaching the pre-planning stage. These loans help farmers and land managers overcome that hurdle and take up the opportunities offered by renewables.”
One farmer who has applied successfully to the Scottish Government CARES Loan scheme is Craig Mitchell of Hallcroft Farms near Saline, in Fife. Mr Mitchell said, “The CARES loan scheme is absolutely essential to progress our idea for two 1.5MW turbines at West Craighouse. The local community council has recently completed a Community Action Plan for projects that matter most to local people. We are consulting with them at an early stage in the hope that the electricity generated by the wind turbines will eventually provide an invaluable source of funding for these local projects and everybody here can enjoy a lasting benefit from green energy generation in the community.”