WIND ENERGY PROJECT
Pròiseact cumhachd gaoithe
Three Enercon 900kW wind turbines at Baile an Truiseil in the Isle of Lewis are operated by Galson Energy Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Urras Energy Society. The Society was set up in 2014 to manage a community share offer that closed at the end of February 2015 and achieved a total of £705,800 from 167 investors who are now the shareholders.
One turbine was installed in autumn 2013 and two additional turbines were installed in summer 2015. The three turbines are forecast to produce 8,871 MWhs per annum in total. Long-term mean wind speed at 55m hub height at the site has been measured as 9.48metres/second (21 mph), which is significantly above the UK average.
Total project cost was £5.0m with loan finance of £3.8m from Triodos Bank and the balance coming through further loans from Urras Energy and Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn. Due to the security requirements of Triodos Bank, a subsidiary company was required and consequently, share funds were provided as a loan. Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn provides management services to Galson Energy Ltd. and Urras Energy Society.
Net profits from wind energy production are passed to community landowner Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn for distribution in accordance with its 2017-37 Strategic Plan. The priorities in the Plan are elderly care, tourism and crofting/land use with a range of other community initiatives also highlighted. The Plan was developed following a household survey in 2016 and an extensive consultation across the 22 townships in the Galson Estate during 2016.
Renewable energy was identified as a key driver for long-term sustainability for the Galson Estate in the early stage of its community buy-out process. The choice of location and site was determined through a detailed wind energy study undertaken between July 2005 and May 2006 with the preferred site identified near to suitable electricity grid capacity that could support three wind turbines. The wind energy site at Baile an Truiseil is located around 21km (15mi) north-west of the principal town of Stornoway, close to the crofting township of Barvas.
During 2006 and 2007, a grid connection offer for 2.7MW was secured for the site along with planning permission for a met mast. The met mast was constructed in early 2008 and wind data collection was undertaken over the following year. Environmental studies were completed over 2008 and 2009 which enabled planning permission to be obtained for three turbines in May 2009. Funding applications for pre-construction activity were submitted in 2009 and significant capital/revenue grants to support wind turbine development were awarded in May 2010.
Visit the Urras Energy Society website for more information.