Solar Connected Communities: Kentallen and Duror Community Centre


Kentallen and Duror Community Centre

Project: Solar Connected Communities: Kentallen and Duror Community Centre
Technology: 8.8 kW Solar PV
Location: Kentallen and Duror, Argyll and Bute
CARES funding: CARES Enablement Grant for development surveys, time and support from a Local Energy Scotland Development Officer, external grant support.
Date installed/operational: 17 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 the community to make the most of this opportunity as the financial return is likely to be significantly more than developing projects without this support.

Kentallen and Duror Community Centre is situated on the main road between the two villages. The original part of the hall was built in 1953 and was extended to almost double its original size in 1999. Some groups currently using the community centre include the bowling club, a pilates class, a community soup lunch group, Lochaber Art, the crafts group and the community choir.

A previous major change to the hall was the installation of a Windhager wood pellet boiler, with pellet storage hopper, to heat the building in 2008. This was funded through funding from the Scottish Government. The sophisticated system is environmentally friendly and is proving to be very efficient and reliable.

Zero Waste Scotland initially worked with Kentallen and Duror Community SCIO, the association that runs the centre, to identify further energy efficiency opportunities. It produced a detailed summary report in July 2019 which highlighted the installation of solar PV to further reduce its carbon emissions.

Project aims and objectives

The project’s main aim was to take advantage of the last of the FIT opportunities for community groups. The project’s specific aims were to reduce the hall’s carbon emissions and electricity bills. Financial surplus from the FIT and the sale of electricity over the next 20 years will support the groups’ future charitable activities.

Outcomes and achievements

Local Energy Scotland supported the centre 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. The community also applied to the local council ward fund to cover the funding gap of development work and cabling.

The centre received approximately £10,300 from SSE’s Highland Sustainable Development Fund. It also followed a competitive procurement process and 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 vision for the future of the energy system in Scotland.

The cost savings and surpluses that Kentallen and Duror Community Centre makes are being reinvested into its work, which contributes to a wider positive impact across the communities they serve.

Lessons learned

The community realised that building warrants were critical to the installation timeline. They also learned the importance of having the association’s current address listed on the Royal Mail database.

The community groups involved in the project have developed their skills and knowledge around local renewable energy systems; this will build their capacity to deliver future projects.

A spokesperson for Kentallen and Duror Community Centre said: “The centre’s committee would like to thank Local Energy Scotland for their assistance with the completion of our solar PV installation. It is saving the centre money in reduced energy costs and also contributing to the efforts we are making to reduce our carbon footprint.

“Local Energy Scotland`s expertise, knowledge and advice were invaluable in ensuring the successful completion of our project. Without the energetic and enthusiastic help of their team we doubt we would have completed in time to benefit from FIT subsidies.”