Solar Connected Communities: Barrhill CIC


solar panels on the roof of Barrhill Memorial HallProject name: Solar Connected Communities: Barrhill CIC
Technology: Solar PV, 17.34kW
Location: Barrhill, South Ayrshire
CARES funding: Development Officer time. Funding was also received from SP Energy Networks Green Economy Fund.
Date installed/operational: March 2020

Background

The Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme closed to new applications in March 2019. Ofgem offered community organisations a 12-month extension through a simple pre-registration process.

Communities interested in small solar PV projects (50 kW or less) could pre-register buildings with Ofgem and then have 12 months to get their project up and running but still receive FIT payments at the January 2019 rate. These payments are then guaranteed for 20 years.

Local Energy Scotland was keen to support Barrhill Community Interest Company (CIC) to make the most of this opportunity as the financial return is likely to be significantly more than developing projects without this support.

Barrhill CIC has been operating since 2008. Its purpose is to oversee the development of Barrhill through the management of windfarm monies allocated to the community as detailed in Barrhill’s Community Action Plan. Barrhill CIC works with Barrhill Development Trust to improve the quality of life of residents of Barrhill.

Zero Waste Scotland initially worked with Barrhill CIC to identify further energy efficiency opportunities. It produced a detailed summary report which highlighted the installation of solar PV at Barrhill Memorial Hall, the community hall, as a way to further reduce its carbon emissions.

Project aims and objectives

The project’s main aim was to reduce Barrhill Memorial Hall’s carbon emissions and improve its energy efficiency rating. Financial surplus from the FIT and the sale of electricity over the next 20 years will support Barhill CIC’s future charitable activities.

The project aims to have a lasting environmental, economic and social benefit on the commu-nities which Barrhill CIC serves. The project also aims to support community involvement and partnership working in local energy systems which may encourage new installations of locally owned renewable energy in the future.

Outcomes and achievements

Local Energy Scotland supported Barrhill CIC to pre-register for the FIT with Ofgem and obtain external private grant funding, which was required to remain eligible for FIT, for the capital installation costs.

Barrhill CIC received £23,152 from SPEN’s Green Economy Fund towards the installation of the solar panels and match funding was provided through its own reserves. It selected the services of Emtec Energy to install the solar PV system.
The project had to develop, build and secure the FIT within 12 months, and the solar panels became operational in March 2020.

The project is contributing towards the Scottish Government’s ambition to have 1GW of locally owned energy by 2020 and 2GW by 2030, as outlined in the Scottish Energy Strategy, its vi-sion for the future of the energy system in Scotland.

First year carbon savings of 3.5 tonnes are expected, in addition to significant energy cost savings. The lifetime of the projects is expected to be between 20 and 25 years.

The cost savings and surpluses that Barrhill CIC makes are being reinvested into their work, which contributes to a wider positive impact across the communities they serve.

Lessons learned

Amy-Dee Watson, Development Officer and Project Lead, said: “Throughout this project, Barrhill CIC has gained knowledge on the technical aspects of solar PV, renewable energy and the processes and paperwork required to install solar panels.

“There were challenges: these included trying to meet the deadlines for key milestones such as pre-registering for the FIT and completing the installation of the solar PV system before the FIT registration deadline. However, both were achieved.

“Barrhill CIC received support and guidance every step of the way from Gemma Murray, one of the Local Development Officers at Local Energy Scotland. The support she gave was very helpful in assisting members to understand the project’s technical requirements and to ensure that the project stayed on track as the organisation didn’t have the expertise itself to ensure this. The support from Local Energy Scotland was instrumental in the project coming to fruition.”