On April 8th, suitably windy and wild, the Bespoke Community Development Company turbine, near Greenrig Farm, to the south of Falkirk, was finally commissioned. It’s not the largest turbine in the world, not by a long shot. But the turning of the blades marked a hugely significant milestone for onshore wind in the UK.
The EWT 900kW turbine has a 69m hub height paired with 61m blades. Not huge, as we say, but EWT tell us it’s the first of this model to be commissioned in the UK. There are, however, more interesting features of the Bespoke turbine.
Firstly, it grows.
Since Locogen got involved with the project way back in 2012, it has been through some five iterations in planning. Each time the FiT tariffs reduced, the size of the proposed turbine was increased to make the numbers stack up financially. And so back to planning; and so the Bespoke turbine grew.
The turbine’s ownership grew, too. Faced with escalating financial and technical challenges, the Bespoke Community Development Company decided to partner with Locogen and Green Cat to develop and deliver the project – and spread the risk in this extremely financially challenging project. Locogen and Green Cat both hold 40% of the shares, with the community retaining a 20% shareholding, plus an annual community benefits payment on top.
The Bespoke turbine was also supported by the Scottish Government through the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), which loaned the community the funds to develop the project.
As a result of all these years of significant effort and support, countless challenges and not a few delays, the turbine was fully commissioned on 8th April. If all goes to plan, it will produce something like 2,860MWh over the course of the year – enough to power around 715 homes.
The last turbine in the UK ever to receive FiT accreditation?
Getting the turbine commissioned and spinning was an important milestone, one of many in the 8 years it has taken to bring this project to fruition. But perhaps the most significant aspect of the Bespoke turbine is that it may very well be the last in the UK to be FiT accredited.
The FiT scheme was an absolute game-changer for onshore wind projects up to 5MW – a scale that saw a huge number of community groups benefit from these projects. Locogen was involved in many such community projects over the life of the FiT scheme and we’re very proud to be involved in this: the very last FiT wind project. (We think).
Reflecting on the project, Locogen CEO, Andy Lyle, said:
“It’s fantastic to finally see the blades turning at the Bespoke project. It’s been a long road and often not an easy one but this is a great example of how shared ownership schemes can work well, using the strengths of both community groups and private developers. This project could not have been delivered without both the community group and the private developers working closely together. The FiT scheme has been huge for onshore wind and an important part of the work we’ve done at Locogen. The scheme winds down to a close as Bespoke starts to turn and we’re particularly pleased that this last FiT project is one that benefits the community.”
Dave Bennet from Bespoke added: “We’re thankful for Locogen’s indefatigability and positive approach over many years working on the project and we’re delighted to see the turbine finally commissioned and benefitting the community.”
Find out more about our community projects here.