Please send me SCA's fortnightly briefing:

September 9, 2009

When the wind blows the cash flows

Wind farms are contentious. Everyone has a view but love them or hate them, what is beyond dispute is they make money for those who own them.  Community Energy Scotland, held its first annual conference last week, and restated its core purpose – to ensure the community sector derives maximum benefit from this lucrative market.  One highly enterprising community – Neilston –  has recently formed a joint venture with a private developer

A SCOTS town is on the brink of a multi-million windfall by generating enough electricity to heat and light thousands of homes.

Neilston will generate income of more than £1million each and every year if the go-ahead is given for a mini wind farm on land outside the town.

Community leaders want to team up with energy renewable specialists and the ground breaking partnership could be copied across Britain.

Neilston Development Trust hope to build three giant turbines, each standing 121 metres tall, with the help of London-based Carbon Free Developments.

The farm will cover a 60-acre brownfield site. Part of it was once used as a landfill site. Plans could be lodged with East Renfrewshire Council next month.

The project will cost £8m and the town will keep almost half of the income generate by producing carbon neutral energy that will be fed into the National Grid.

Officials say it will take 12 years to pay off loans during which time the town will receive an annual income varying between £250,000 and £1m.

But once every penny borrowed has been paid back then community leaders will see income soar to more than £1m annually, said Dominic Farrugia, managing director of Carbon Free Developments.

He added: “Community renewables ownership is something that the Scottish Government strongly encourages. We see Neilston as the first community in the UK, where we can roll out our unique collaborative development model.

Development trust chairman Alan Walker said the income will be used to support a range of community projects and added: “The key to this deal is the level of openness and collaboration between the two parties which will allow us to invest in renewable energy projects for local benefit.”