Renewable energy has always been a Kilfinan Community Forest objective. Since our foundation we have been exploring wind and hydro schemes
Hydro electric scheme
We were delighted to officially launch our 75kW hydro-electric scheme on 25th September 2015.
This is one of a few community hydro-electric schemes in Scotland, and will deliver a reliable income to KCFC for a minimum of twenty years, as the electricity generated will be sold to the National Grid under the Government’s feed-in tariff scheme.
Income will further enable KCFC to operate within a secure, self-sustaining business environment, so that the charity can continue to support jobs, offer new local employment opportunities, and provide other local benefits in the long term.
There are loads of other benefits too. Our climate, with an abundance of water and frequent rainfall, is ideally suited to a hydro-electric scheme. What’s more, hydro generates more electricity in winter when demand is at its highest. Plus of all the renewables, hydro provides the cleanest energy. A hydro-electric scheme isn’t resource hungry at the installation stage and once built it produces no direct waste and generates a lot of power. And because it’s small scale and ‘run of the river’ we’ve been able to install the hydro-electric scheme in the Allt Mor with very little environmental impact. We haven’t had to build a dam, which can be environmentally damaging, or create any water diversion.
Seeing this project off the ground took a long time. A study on the feasibility of a micro hydro scheme was carried out in 2012. By 2013 we achieved the required environmental and planning permissions and received preliminary accreditation from Ofgem. An archaeological survey was conducted by Argyll Archaeology in summer 2014. We then secured a loan of £274K from Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF) and Social Investment Scotland (SIS), to install the run-of-river scheme. It was installed by Co-hydro Ltd, a team of specialist contractors.
The pipeline follows the route of the Allt Mor. It is buried so there is minimal visual impact and a noise impact survey confirmed that it will be virtually silent in use.
Follow this link to see a map of the pipeline route: http://www.kilfinancommunityforest.co.uk/images/upload/files/kilfinandocs_pdf_1368.pdf
We hope that other community projects will still consider hydro as a means to create sustainability in their communities; we’re always happy to share information and experiences.
Wind Turbine scheme
We looked into the viability of one 500KW community-owned wind turbine at the forest.
A feasibility study conducted by Atmos Consultants in 2010 identified a possible site for a turbine. In 2012 we erected a mast to collect meteorological data that would tell us whether the location has suitable wind profile for the project to progress.
After two years of monitoring it became clear to us that a wind turbine wouldn’t be viable in the chosen location. Other site are available, but given the current uncertainty about long-term subsidies for renewables we aren’t planning any further wind development for the foreseeable future.