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New community wind farm to fund new homes for social rental

New wind farm in the Scottish Borders will create revenue for association to build 500 new homes over next 25 years.

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A wind farm, developed by a housing association as a means of funding new homes for social rent, was launched and named yesterday (Tuesday 28 March) by Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse MSP.

The Hoprigshiels community windfarm – which was named ‘Fishermen Three’ – is located near Cockburnspath in the Scottish Borders and is a joint venture between Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA) and Community Energy Scotland. 

By supplying energy to the National Grid, the wind farm will create revenue for BHA of around £20 million over the next 25 years – enough to allow it to build 500 new homes over that period. 

Community Energy Scotland’s £10 million share of the revenue will enable it to support communities across the country to develop and benefit from renewable energy projects and play a crucial part in building a greener energy system.

The three-turbine scheme will have an installed capacity of 7.5MW and will export just under 25 million kilowatt-hours each year – enough energy to power around 5,900 households. As wind power is one of the most established and cost-effective forms of renewable energy generation, Hoprigshiels will also save 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year, helping play a small but significant part in the global fight against climate change. 

The wind farm project has been supported by two main funders, Triodos Bank and the Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF). REIF is delivered by the Scottish Investment Bank – the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise – on behalf of the Scottish Government and its Enterprise Agencies.

Helen Forsyth, Chief Executive of Berwickshire Housing Association, said: 

“The idea for the wind farm came when BHA realised that we had to be innovative in order to solve the dilemma of how to keep building new homes for social rental, which are so badly needed in this area, at a time when funding for new housing through traditional channels was in decline. The wind farm will provide BHA with a reliable, predictable, low maintenance source of income that will allow us to build a steady stream of new affordable homes at a time when services are all too often being cut.”

She added:

“This is not our only application of renewable energy; it is part of a whole approach and attitude at BHA that includes fitting 700 homes with PV solar panels and investing in new heating systems that reduce fuel bills for our tenants.”

Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse said:

“It is because of the investment opportunities that projects such as this can create that Scottish Government continues to invest in‎ community renewable energy projects across the country through REIF, with support from Community Energy Scotland.

“I am delighted that there are more than 500 MW of community and locally owned projects that have already been developed in Scotland, and today sees a further 7.5 MW added to that figure, but we want to do much more and that is why our draft Energy Strategy contains a target of raising this total to 1GW by 2020 and, by 2030, to double that yet again to 2GW.”

David Stewart, SFHA Policy Lead, welcomed the wind farm opening. He said:

“The opening of the Berwickshire Housing Association wind farm is great news for the local community.  It demonstrates housing associations’ commitment to lead on renewables and the provision of much needed quality affordable housing. 

“It is just one of the great energy projects that housing associations have developed to support their tenants and their communities. Others include the community wind turbine installed by Ore Valley Housing Association in Cardenden, Fife, where 50% of the income will support community projects, Our Power, the not for profit energy company set up by a group of associations and the numerous examples of housing associations installing micro-renewables and low carbon heating systems to provide affordable warmth and reduce tenants’ fuel bills.”

Pictured: The wind farm opening. From left to right: Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse, Helen Forsyth of BHA and Nicholas Gubbins of Community Energy Scotland. ©Tara Grey.