Fifers for the Community

Bayview stadium

 

Project name: Fifers for the Community
Technology: Energy Systems Options Appraisal
Location: Methil, Fife
CARES funding: £20,000 enablement grant
Date completed: February 2021  

Background:  

Fifers for the Community (FFTC) is a charitable organisation based in Methil, Fife. Its main objectives are to advance the public participation of sport in the Levenmouth area. It works with various community groups in the area, including East Fife Football Club (EFFC). EFFC are based at Bayview stadium within Methil Docks Business Park, which is part of a wider Fife Energy Zone.

Through its connections with EFFC, it learned that the business park has an operational local energy system comprising of a wind turbine and solar panels with private wire connections into several buildings, including EFFC’s Bayview stadium.

Project aims and objectives:

FFTC recognised that this local energy system offered several opportunities for the local community. For example, it could increase the uptake of community and locally owned renewable energy in the area as well as supporting community involvement that would lead to new locally-owned installations. There was also the opportunity to generate funds to support its planned community projects.

FFTC applied for CARES funding to commission an options appraisal that would identify the owners, operators, recipients, and beneficiaries of the renewable energy being produced.

After a competitive tendering process FFTC commissioned Locogen to explore options to potentially purchase or connect into this existing local energy system with future potential for expansion of the generation and consumers supplied. A key aim was to ensure that EFFC’s energy demands would be satisfied by renewable/low carbon generation.

The scope of technologies and measures to be considered included energy efficiency, heat and electricity generation, energy storage, low carbon transport, and smart controls to manage energy flows and grid interactions.

Outcomes and achievements:

The project was delivered in three stages. Stage one was a baseline assessment outlining the facility and the microgrid’s general role. It was agreed that the assessment’s scope would be centred around EFFC, but it soon became clear that there could be other opportunities for FFTC.

Stage two was changed to be an assessment of opportunities to take a closer look at how the system was being managed and any financial implications. Stage 2 threw into focus both the project’s potential, but also potential problems, particularly the start-up costs which would need to be considered.

Stage three, the project summary, also contains detailed financial information providing FFTC with the necessary information to enter into discussions with the seller and potential lenders.

The project’s outcome is a comprehensive Renewables Options Appraisal report that gives FFTC an understanding of the ownership, operation, and management of the site’s microgrid system and generation equipment.

FFTC now knows:

  • the microgrid system’s original purpose
  • who owns and manages the system
  • the recipients, potential recipients and beneficiaries of the system
  • future customer opportunities within the existing system.

The report also identified the overall financial viability of a renewable energy Community Power Company which could offer reduced cost power whilst at the same time generate funds for FFTC to support community projects.

Lessons learned:

A spokesperson from FFTC said:

“This project was carried out through a pandemic, so there has been a unique set of circumstances which may never have been a factor previously.

“Throughout the process FFTC have had a relatively easy ride. Firstly, that’s because many of the challenges were faced by Locogen, who had been selected to carry out the assessment. They report that the major problems they encountered were consulting with others, holding meetings on site with and general information gathering at a time when there has been so much disruption in the workplace.

“Secondly, we were talked through the process by Local Energy Scotland’s local development officer. They have been available every step of the way, and they stepped in or out as required to make the relationship between FFTC and Locogen work smoothly, despite the Local Energy Scotland team having to cope with COVID-19 restrictions themselves.

“Finally, I’d like to give a word of self-praise for FFTC. The final piece of the jigsaw has been that our strong relationship with local businesses and community organisations meant that there have been no delays getting information to Locogen.

“If we had to pass on one piece of advice to other groups undertaking a similar project it would be to use the expertise within your group where possible. But don’t hesitate to take advice from the experts in whatever part of a project is beyond your knowledge.”

Next steps:

The assessment has opened up an opportunity for FFTC to be involved in directing renewable energy to the community, and at the same time generate funds to support community projects.

The FFTC spokesperson said:

“We now have both the technical and financial information to enter into discussions with the asset owner with a view to purchase. Should an agreement be reached, that same information will be invaluable when approaching lenders.”