COMMUNITY Energy Scotland is taking a lead role in assisting the development of a wide variety of projects across Shetland.
One example is the new and innovative approach to community wind energy projects. With no access to the national electricity grid, emphasis is being placed on small schemes aimed at producing up to one megawatt.
Mid Yell and Aith have already taken large steps towards developing and implementing their own community district heating projects.
Community Energy Scotland has also assisted through the Scottish Communities and Householders Renewable Initiative (SCHRI) funding programme to the Foula community energy scheme, an off-grid, hybrid, all-island power system.
The project has progressed well throughout the last year with the installation of a 19 kilowatt photovoltaic array, 16 kilowatts of hydro generation and a new 1,000 metre pipeline to a second burn and lochs which substantially increases the overall capacity.
The renewable output in Foula is coupled to 210 kilowatt-hours of battery storage and inverters. The work represents the first of two phases and is already giving the isle’s residents 24-hour service power.
At times of low renewable energy production, however, Foula is still reliant on back-up diesel generators.
The community is now seeking to raise funds to complete phase two of the project which will include wind energy, additional battery storage to extend the availability of power from the renewable sources and minimise the use of imported fossil fuels.
Community Energy Scotland has recently recruited Jennifer Nicolson in Shetland to work with area manager Patrick Ross-Smith on the smaller SCHRI projects such as the Community Wind2Heat projects.
Mr Ross-Smith said: “We will also continue to work with community groups to develop more small scale Wind2Heat schemes for single community buildings. This system has proven to be the most efficient way to capture and convert the available wind energy resource into stored heat within community buildings. In conjunction with the introduction of renewable technologies the community groups have also carried out energy efficiency appraisals and improved insulation standards as well as carefully looking at their energy use and management.
“The lasting contribution of these projects has been seeing the increased utilisation of the community halls now that wind energy can provide effective heating in times of greatest wind chill.”
Meanwhile, wind turbines could be put back into service at three primary schools, a meeting of the infrastructure committtee heard on Tuesday.
The turbines at Urafirth, Lunnasting and Skeld primary schools were shut down on safety grounds around three years ago when a cowl blew off the turbine at Urafirth.
Energy manager John Simpson, responding to a question from councillor Alastair Cooper, said discussions were taking place with turbine supplier Proven Energy about reinstating the turbines. No date has been set.
Councillor Allison Duncan asked if wind turbines could be used at other council sites.
Mr Simpson said later that Lunnasting Primary School was very keen to have the wind turbine back but in the case of the other two schools, wider consultation would have to take place with the schools and the community.
Around 12 community halls around the isles are using the same turbines with the same technology.