Solar Connected Communities: West Kilbride Community Association

 

Project name: Solar Connected Communities: West Kilbride Community Association (WKCA)
Technology: 33kW Solar PV
Location: West Kilbride Community Centre, West Kilbride, North Ayrshire
CARES funding: Development officer time. Funding was also received from SP Energy Networks Green Economy Fund and match funding provided through West Kilbride Community Association (WKCA) reserves.
Date installed/operational: September 2020

Background

West Kilbride Community Association (WKCA) is a charitable organisation, regulated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Register (OSCR). Its main aims and objectives are to encourage everyone in the community to participate in and benefit from education, arts, culture, and sport in the local area by providing recreational facilities at West Kilbride Community Centre. West Kilbride Community Centre comprises a pair of linked red sandstone buildings, constructed in the 1890s.

The 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 (50kW 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 WKCA to make the most of this opportunity as the financial return is likely to be significantly more than developing projects without this support.

Project aims and objectives

The project’s specific aims were to reduce carbon emissions at West Kilbride Community Centre’s carbon emissions and reduce its energy bills.

Profit from the FIT and the sale of electricity over the next 20 years will support the groups’ future charitable activities.

The project aims to have a lasting environmental, economic and social benefit on the communities which WKCA 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 WKCA to pre-register for the FIT with Ofgem and obtain external private grant funding, which was required in order to remain eligible for FIT, for the capital installation costs.

WKCA received approximately £43,150 from SPEN’s Green Economy Fund towards the capital costs of the solar PV installation. This was match funded through WKCA’s reserves.

WKCA used the services of E&S utilities Ltd. to install the 33kW solar PV system at West Kilbride Community Centre.

The project had to develop, build, and secure the FIT within the Ofgem FIT deadline, and the solar panels became operational in September 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.

First year carbon savings of 6.5 tonnes CO2 are expected, in addition to significant energy cost savings. The lifetime of the project is expected to be between 20 and 25 years.

The cost savings and surpluses that WKCA makes are being reinvested into its work, which contributes to a wider positive impact across the communities it serves.

Lessons learned

The group received quotes from two installers that were listed on Local Energy Scotland’s framework of contractors. They identified additional installers through the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) register. Using CARES procurement guidance, they appointed a local contractor to install the solar PV that met WKCA’s specification requirements.

Steven Barclay, project lead, said:

“We would like to highlight the support we received from Local Energy Scotland. In our case, we were lucky to have the support of Gemma Murray. Gemma provided the necessary facts and figures delivered in a format that was easy to understand and this was key when it came to presenting the business case for securing our match funding. Her support throughout the duration of the project was invaluable.”