The community owned ‘UistWind’ wind farm on North Uist achieved a significant milestone in September as it generated enough electricity to power every single home on the island of North Uist.
The two Enercon 900kW E44 wind turbines at Criongrabhal near Clachan-na-Luib generated 6,129,000 kWh of electricity between commissioning on 13th September 2019 and 8th September this year – just beating the annual consumption figure by 5 days.
This remarkable feat is just the latest accomplishment for a project that has overcome significant challenges on its way to becoming a success story that is an inspiration to other rural and island community energy projects.
The UistWind project was conceived as far back as 2010 but needed to overcome considerable financing and development hurdles before finally being commissioned in September 2019. A major part of this success was a community share offer, which raised £453,850 from more than 220 investors, allowing the project to proceed and providing a great example of community empowerment.
Now, the island community can benefit from green electricity which offsets enough to power all of its homes. Income from the electricity generated, meanwhile, will be invested in local community projects, creating opportunities to help combat depopulation.
Speaking for Locogen, project managers for the wind farm development, director Stuart Hamilton said: “After all the challenges of developing and constructing this project, it’s fantastic to see the first year of generation data and that important milestone being exceeded. We can now see the positive impact UistWind will have on the community for many years to come.”
Ameena Camps, project delivery manager at North Uist Development Company said: “This is an exciting major achievement for UistWind, for the community of North Uist and for the UK in helping to meet renewable energy targets; highlighting tenacity truly can reap many rewards. Thanks to the lenders: Triodos Bank UK and the Energy Investment Fund, Members of UistWind and everyone who has supported the project over the years of development, construction and now, operation”
This milestone is only the beginning for North Uist. UistWind project aims to create over £2million for the community over a projected 22 years, with profits going straight back to the community via North Uist Development Company’s charitable activities.
Mustapha Hocine, Chair of the North Uist Development Company (Trading) Ltd said “I am delighted that we have reached this key stage. The prospect is bright for UistWind and there is excitement amongst all involved about the benefits that will be able to be delivered to the community in the future”
You can read our latest July newsletter to catch up on everything we've been doing this year here.
We'd just like to say #thankyou to all who supported UistWind in it's nomination at the Scottish Green Energy Awards this year. Congratulations to all the winners, especially Canna - winners of the Best Community Project Award. Cross fingers for next year! https://www.scottishrenewables.com/events/sgea19/finalists/
North Uist Development Company and UistWind have topped off an autumn of success with the news that the UistWind renewables project has been shortlisted for the Best Community Project Award at The Scottish Green Energy Awards.
Scottish Renewables made the official announcement on Wednesday, October 16, after considering more than 100 entries. The recognition follows a very challenging development and construction journey for the Hebridean wind farm, at Criongrabhal near Clachan-na-Luib in North Uist, which came to a happy conclusion with the official Open Day on September 20.
Mustapha Hocine, chair of North Uist Development Company (Trading) Limited, said: “It’s always good for a small community project to be recognised with the extra effort needed by all to deliver a community project and, especially after all the difficulties we have faced to get here. Congratulations goes to staff, members and Directors for all the hard work and adaptability to achieve these successes.”
Other recent highlights for UistWind have been the publication of its Community Investment Plan and the welcoming of new Directors at the Annual General Meeting.
The Community Investment Plan, detailing how the North Uist community would like to spend the benefit fund from its UistWind project once the wind farm starts generating a profit, is now online.
The plan details the spending priorities of the community as established by the community benefit survey carried out over the summer, in paper and online and also by school engagement.
The creation of the plan followed a number of consultation events through the summer, including the North Uist Highland Games and Agricultural Show and a day-long event at Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath about renewables and climate change.
A number of investment priorities were identified in the plan, as well as the favoured processes for how the money would be distributed. These included that North Uist Development Company will administer the community benefit funds through quarterly funding rounds and that funding decisions would be taken by committee, upon application. Different levels of grant will be available.
In terms of investment priorities, in the combined online and paper survey results the most popular topic was projects to support young people on the island. Start-up funds was the next most popular option, followed by four options with similar results: local charities, local environmental projects, tourism infrastructure and local care and support projects.
The plan can be read online on the www.uistwind.com website and will be updated in future years once the project begins to generate a profit for the benefit of the local community.
Publication of the plan followed UistWind’s successful Open Day and thanks go to Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band for leading a march to the official ceremony, where a group of young pupils from Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath cut the ribbon on the day of global climate strikes to mark the passing of the torch to the younger generation who will benefit from the income from the turbines and their contribution to the fight against global warming.
UistWind also welcomed Angus Brendan MacNeil MP (pictured below with pupils from Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath) who gave an opening speech.
Looking back on that momentous opening, Mr MacNeil said: “The Directors of UistWind are to be congratulated for their continued efforts in bringing forward this development. This project again highlights that the volunteers who pushed the project forward did so at a time of personal risk for community gain, therefore, their efforts should be doubly applauded. I was delighted to be able to attend the official opening and I wish them continued success for the future.”
The Annual General Meeting, rescheduled from September 21 was held in Carinish Hall on September 28, where a new management committee was appointed, among other business. There are now nine on the committee. Three were appointed from North Uist Development Company – Pam MacPherson, Mustapha Hocine and Andrew Ross – and the other six are Catherine MacLeod, Alastair Macleod, Cliff Black, Norman Dunn, Tony Pendle and Steven Kemp.
UistWind director Andrew Ross said: “We’re delighted to have new people involved, bringing complementary skills onto the board. The success of the project so far is, we believe, encouraging high calibre people to want to get involved. They will bring their skills and expertise to ensure the project continues to be a success into the future.”
The UistWind project – now generating power – comprises two 900kW turbines at Criongrabhal and is wholly community owned.
Looking back on the UistWind journey so far, Ameena Camps, UistWind Project Delivery Manager, said: “We are thrilled so many were able to join us on the Open Day, especially the North Uist primary school students who cut the ceremonial ribbon to mark this special occasion and came to celebrate the installation of their wind turbines which will benefit younger generations into the future.
“We’d like to send a huge thank you to the Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band who led the opening ceremony with a march to Turbine 1, bringing tears to our eyes on this momentous occasion, and thanks to Angus Brendan MacNeil who joined us to provide the first words of the ceremony.
“It has been a struggle to get to this point and it is wonderful to be able to celebrate with the community now both turbines are generating.”
These struggles were the subject of a presentation Ameena gave to the Scottish Islands Federation Learning Exchange and AGM, held on Grimsay from October 1 to 4 – and she admitted: “I shocked everyone with how many hurdles we’ve had to overcome”.
Overcoming barriers is one part of the selection criteria for the Scottish Green Energy Award for Best Community Project, as is benefit to the local community – and UistWind have nearly 10 years of struggles behind them, to get to this point of generating clean energy.
The winners of the awards will be announced at the finals ceremony in Edinburgh on 5 December.
The UistWind project has passed two key milestones. The main news is the second turbine is now up after early problems with its concrete base meant the foundation had to be rebuilt.
Timelapse footage by UistFilm captured the moment the rotor and blades for turbine 1 – T1 – were installed (in the morning of August 20), amid great excitement after the previous difficulties.
In other news, the first turbine to go up – T2 – is now generating electricity. It was fully commissioned and exported power to the Grid for the first time on August 2.
UistWind is a community project to erect two 900kW turbines in North Uist, at Criongrabhal near Clachan-na-Luib. The wind farm is due to be operational by October this year.
A North Uist Development Company (Trading) project, the wind farm aims to generate more than £2 million over the project’s lifetime of 22 years – with the profits going straight back to the community via NUDC’s charitable activities.
Construction of the first turbine, T2, was completed in July and there were celebrations when its blades began to turn for the first time on July 31.
One of the UistWind directors captured a video of this welcome sight and it was posted on social media, along with the explanation it would continue to appear to spin on and off while the commissioning process took place.
There was further joy when the construction of T1 was completed and this final stage was nicely documented with the timelapse video shot by Andy MacKinnon and arranged with the help of project managers Locogen.
UistWind are delighted to have finally reached the stage of seeing both turbines installed.
They also paid tribute to the personnel at the MoD and QinetiQ for working with them to facilitate the creation of the community-owned wind farm, overcoming challenges posed by its proximity to the Hebrides Range.
Dr Ameena Camps, Project Delivery Manager with North Uist Development Company, said: “I cannot begin to explain how thrilled we are to see both turbines in place, and both will soon be generating electricity for the benefit of the community in the longer term.
“The operation of UistWind would not have been possible were it not for the willingness of the MoD and QinetiQ’s personnel to work with the community to identify and implement solutions that allow the wind farm to co-exist with their radar technology.”
Mustapha Hocine, Chair of North Uist Development Company (Trading) Limited, said: “We are very grateful for the strong working relationship that has been developed and look forward to working with the MoD and QinetiQ during the lifetime of UistWind.”