So­lar panel boost re­ally can give power back to the peo­ple

The Galloway News - - Galloway View - STEPHEN NOR­RIS

A Glenkens com­mu­nity hub is pow­er­ing to­wards a new fu­ture us­ing en­ergy from the sun.

And a so­lar panel ar­ray on the roof of The Smiddy in Bal­maclel­lan is al­ready gen­er­at­ing cash.

The pan­els – stage one of a three-phase re­new­able elec­tric­ity drive – are also hooked up to Glenkens Men’s Shed next door.

Glenkens Com­mu­nity Arts Trust Ltd de­vised the green en­ergy scheme to boost the com­mu­nity group’s sus­tain­abil­ity.

Project lead Gill Warnock said: “Any ex­cess elec­tric­ity from the pan­els is go­ing into the na­tional grid.

“We ex­pect sev­eral hun­dred pounds will be gen­er­ated an­nu­ally over the 20-year guar­an­teed pay­ments pe­riod.

“It’s an­other small in­come stream which will help the sus­tain­abil­ity of GCAT into the fu­ture.”

GCAT has al­ready se­cured fund­ing for stage two of the project from Black­craig wind­farm com­mu­nity ben­e­fit fund.

“Ex­ter­nal cladding will be fit­ted to the walls to im­prove in­su­la­tion,”Gill said.

“Two elec­tric ve­hi­cle charg­ing points will also be fit­ted.

“They will be linked up to the so­lar pan­els and elec­tric­ity from them will sup­ply the charg­ing points.”

Phase three of GCAT’s re­new­able en­ergy plan, sub­ject to fund­ing, will see a bat­tery stor­age sys­tem in­stalled.

Once up and run­ning, the sys­tem will lock away sur­plus power from the pan­els un­til it is needed for use on site.

“It’s a lo­cal dis­tri­bu­tion net­work which will make GCAT more sus­tain­able in fu­ture,”Mrs Warnock said.

“Once done that will be the end of the project.”

Switch­ing on the so­lar panel ar­ray was a joint fund­ing ef­fort with Black­craig fund­ing a re­place­ment roof and 50 per cent of the pan­els.

Scot­tish Power Enen­rgy Net­works (SPEN) con­trib­uted the other 50 per cent through its Green Econ­omy Fund while an anony­mous donor chipped in £5,000.

En­ergy Scot­land pro­vided ad­vice and paid for the en­ergy per­for­mance cer­ti­fi­ate (EPC).

Gill said:“Thanks to our fund­ing we’ve been able to im­prove our lo­cal area and sup­port our com­mu­nity on the road to cleaner en­ergy.

Mean­while, Mo­ni­aive Ini­tia­tive re­ceived cash to­wards so­lar pan­els on Mo­ni­aive Bowl­ing Club roof.

The club’s Duncan Saun­der­son said:“The chal­lenges have been around com­plet­ing var­i­ous el­e­ments on time.

“We re­ceived ex­cel­lent sup­port from Lo­cal En­ergy Scot­land who had pre­vi­ously sup­ported an­other project in Mo­ni­aive, so we con­tacted them again and they proved to be ex­tremely help­ful again.”

SPEN direc­tor Craig Arthur said:“I have no doubt th­ese ex­cit­ing so­lar projects will make a real dif­fer­ence for Glenkens Com­mu­nity and Arts Trust Lim­ited and Mo­ni­aive Ini­tia­tive.

“I look for­ward to see­ing lo­cal peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties reap the ben­e­fits.”

Lo­cal En­ergy Scot­land de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Gemma Mur­ray said fund­ing was still avail­able through the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s Com­mu­nity En­ergy and Re­new­able En­ergy Scheme (CARES).

She said:“Lo­cal En­ergy Scot­land have launched a June 2020 CARES fund­ing call and are en­cour­ag­ing all el­i­gi­ble groups to sub­mit an Ex­pres­sion of In­ter­est (EoI) form by Wed­nes­day, July 22, 2020.”

GCAT and the Mo­ni­aive Ini­tia­tive were among 14 com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions across Scot­land to re­ceive SPEN fund­ing for so­lar pan­els on com­mu­nity halls, churches, schools and sports clubs.

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