European energy delegates welcomed to Outer Hebrides

The RIPEET delegation with Point and Sandwick Trust members at Beinn Grideag community wind farm on the Isle of Lewis

DELEGATES of the EU organisation known as RIPEET (Responsible Research and Innovation Policy Experimentations for Energy Transition) visited the Isle of Lewis on the 14th and 15th of September as part of their pilot project to support the energy transition from fossil fuel dependence to renewable and smart technologies in the Outer Hebrides. Along with UK partners, Community Energy Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the group also held a public session to discuss community energy initiatives and launch their £40,000 ‘Call for Solutions’ fund for pilot projects to “reduce household energy costs by better utilising locally generated energy”.

The RIPEET project involves 11 partners from Austria, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the UK, creating a platform to share experience and support for collaboration on energy innovation in the three regions taking part in this first pilot scheme, the Outer Hebrides, Ostrobothnia (Finland) and Extremadura (Spain).  The project is funded by EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. The recent trip to Lewis was the first of these collaborative meetings and 15 delegates from academic, public, private and civil sector organisations around Europe were hosted by organisations on the island.

In addition to meetings with various stakeholders, the delegation visited the Creed Recycling Centre to hear about the Outer Hebrides Local Energy Hub and ROBERTSON projects followed by an afternoon in Point, hosted by community wind farm Point and Sandwick Trust (PST). Delegates were taken to the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm where Community Consultant, Tony Robson and Development Manager, Calum Macdonald talked the group through the PST project to build and operate the UK’s biggest community wind farm.  The visit was followed by lunch and a tour of projects that have benefited from PST support as a result of the income generated by the 9MW wind farm, including the local football club, a community coastal path project and a croft participating in the Croft Woodland project to plant native trees.

Matthew Logan of RIPEET partner Community Energy Scotland said of the visit: “This was a fantastic trip to Lewis and with a strong interest in community energy, delegates from the RIPEET pilot regions in Finland and Spain found the visit to Point and Sandwick Trust particularly inspiring and we received great feedback from everyone involved.  It’s been an important trip for us to meet various stakeholders and projects like that at the Creed Recycling Centre and to be able to showcase the impressive work Point and Sandwick Trust has achieved through community energy”.

Calum Macdonald of PST said of the visit: “We thoroughly enjoyed welcoming our European visitors to the Point and Sandwick area as we are firm believers in communities being empowered to look at and develop community energy schemes that can make a significant difference to their local area. We know it works and encourage communities to consider how they can utilise renewable energy for themselves.  For example, from independent research conducted in 2020, we know that in the first 5 years of operation, our wind farm at Beinn Ghrideag brought in and invested £2.38M into the Western Isles. We look forward to continuing to work with the RIPEET project and partners and are excited to see what ideas come from their ‘Call for Solutions’ fund set up to encourage reduced household costs from better management of locally generated energy.”

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