MSP Michael Matheson, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, joined us on Friday 30th July to
formally launch the Bespoke community wind turbine, near his local constituency of Falkirk. This marked the first turbine Mr Matheson has opened since being appointed to his new role; however, it could also be the last turbine in the UK to be granted Feed-in Tariff (FiT) accreditation.
The opening ceremony marked the successful completion of a long and complex project, taking over 8 years to complete, involving 6 key
stakeholders and with 5 iterations in planning. First beginning in 2012, the Bespoke community project was subject to reductions in the FiT incentive, meaning the size of the proposed turbine was increased to make the numbers stack up financially.
The community group, Bespoke Community Development Company (CDC), decided to partner with Locogen and Green Cat Renewables 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. Turbine manufacturer, EWT, was actively involved in altering the proposed size of the turbine. In the end, a 900kW EWT turbine was erected with a hub height of 69m and blades of 61m. It is the first of this model to be commissioned in the UK, producing approximately 2,860 MWh over the course of a year – enough to power around 715 homes.
The UK’s FiT scheme for small-scale renewables officially closed on the 31st of March 2019 and was undoubtedly a huge success and key to the economics of sub-5MW solar and wind deployments across the UK. This scale also contributed to the democratisation of our electricity generation industry, allowing many small businesses, landowners and community groups to benefit.
Locogen CEO, Andy Lyle, commented:
“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 CDC added: “We’re delighted to see the turbine finally commissioned and benefitting the community.”