Scotland's epic adventure: Using wind power to support affordable housing

This information provided by Smart Cities Council Compassionate Cities.
Tue, 2017-04-25 11:48 -- Compassionate C...

There's lots of wind in Berwickshire, a historic Scottish county that borders the North Sea. There's also some innovating thinking blowing through too. Case in point: The local housing charity partnered with a renewable energy charity to harness some of that wind to generate electricity to sell to the National Grid and use the proceeds to build affordable homes. It’s a creative solution to a problem communities around the world face. – Liz Enbysk

After years of planning, the three-turbine community wind farm at Hoprigshiels Farm near Cockburnspath in the Scottish Borders is operational, connected to the National Grid and generating electricity.

Berwickshire Community Renewables – the  joint venture by the Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA) and Community Energy Scotland (CES)  is expected to sell enough electricity to build at least 500 new homes.

As he smashed a bottle of whisky against one of the turbines to inaugurate the project last month, Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse hailed the project as a first, according to a piece in The Guardian.

“This just shows what can be achieved if communities are involved in the process from the beginning,” Wheelhouse said. “The terms of the debate change from a wind farm being seen as doing something to people to an enterprise doing something for people.”

The housing association anticipates the wind farm will generate around 19GWh of electricity a year, enough to power around 4000 households and providing income for both BHA and CES, helping to build affordable housing and supporting local community projects.

Helen Forsyth is chief executive of BHA and rightfully proud of what her small organization has managed with the help of CES and its funding partners. The project has recently been shortlisted in the 2017 British Renewable Energy Awards. The windfarm is one of three projects in the running to be named the UK's best community energy project.

As Forsyth said in The Guardian article, it’s been “an epic adventure.”

Related topics:
5 cities, 5 intriguing affordable housing strategies
Report: End energy poverty faster with policies supporting distributed renewables


This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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Submitted by Chris Cooper on
This is exactly the type of smart approach I advocate. Delivering community benefit will ensure the local residents are the first to benefit too. Aligning economic interest to technology will mean that the tech thrives and is sustainable. We need more of these JV's and smart investments. Then more of us can enjoy cheap energy & smart solutions as well as smarter economics.