The community owned ‘UistWind’ wind farm on North Uist achieved a significant milestone in September as it generated enough electricity to power every single home on the island of North Uist.
The two Enercon 900kW E44 wind turbines at Criongrabhal near Clachan-na-Luib generated 6.129 MWh of electricity between commissioning on 13th September 2019 and 8th September this year – just beating the annual island homes consumption figure by 5 days.
This remarkable feat is just the latest accomplishment for a project that has overcome significant challenges on its way to becoming a success story that is an inspiration to other rural and island community energy projects.
The UistWind project was conceived as far back as 2010 but needed to overcome considerable financing and development hurdles before finally being commissioned in September 2019. A major part of this success was a community share offer, which raised £453,850 from more than 220 investors, allowing the project to proceed and providing a great example of community empowerment.
Now, the island community can benefit from green electricity which offsets enough to power all of its homes. Income from the electricity generated, meanwhile, will be invested in local community projects, creating opportunities to help combat depopulation.
Speaking for Locogen, project managers for the wind farm development, director Stuart Hamilton said: “After all the challenges of developing and constructing this project, it’s fantastic to see the first year of generation data and that important milestone being exceeded. We can now see the positive impact UistWind will have on the community for many years to come and it’s testament to the great work done by our asset management team in keeping the turbines operating at the optimal level.”
Ameena Camps, project delivery manager at North Uist Development Company said: “This is an exciting major achievement for UistWind, for the community of North Uist and for the UK in helping to meet renewable energy targets; highlighting that tenacity truly can reap many rewards. Thanks to the lenders: Triodos Bank UK and the Energy Investment Fund, Members of UistWind and everyone who has supported the project over the years of development, construction and now, operation”
This milestone is only the beginning for North Uist. UistWind project aims to create over £2million for the community over a projected 22 years, with profits going straight back to the community via North Uist Development Company’s charitable activities.
Mustapha Hocine, Chair of the North Uist Development Company (Trading) Ltd said “I am delighted that we have reached this key stage. The prospect is bright for UistWind and there is excitement amongst all involved about the benefits that will be able to be delivered to the community in the future.”
UistWind is a £3.5million project financed by Triodos Bank UK, the ethical bank with specialist experience in financing community renewable energy projects, with a secondary loan from the Energy Investment Fund (‘EIF’), a Scottish Government Fund managed and delivered by the Scottish Investment Bank, and over 220 community investors through its community share offer. The project will be capitalising on one of the last Feed-In Tariffs and is also thought to be the last Outer Hebrides renewables project that will be able to take up space on the current cable to the mainland, before it is full to capacity and an interconnector is needed.
UistWind is a project of the North Uist Development Company (Trading) Limited (NUDC-T) which was initiated by members of North Uist Development Company (NUDC) and the wider North Uist community. NUDC-T was set up as a Community Benefit Society to enable the development of a community-owned wind farm and fundraising was completed in December 2018 towards the development and operation of the wind farm which will donate its income to fund community initiatives across the island.