finance

West coast community launches hydropower scheme



A community on the west coast of Scotland will launch the UK’s largest community-owned hydro-electric power scheme today.

The Barr River hydropower scheme was completed in July on a site deep in the forest, 11 miles from the village of Lochaline.

Today will also mark the opening of two further community-developed facilities – a community hub and new housing.

The projects have been delivered by the Morvern Community Development Company (MCDC) with support from local development officer Lilia Dobrokhodova, whose post is funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Dobrokhodova commented: “2021 has been an exceptional year for us with the completion of three major projects that are already providing tangible benefits to the community.

“It is great to see the years of planning come to fruition, despite the added challenges of the pandemic.

“As the largest community-owned hydro scheme in the UK, it is a project that we are rightly proud of, and one that offers huge future potential to the community.”

The 1.6Mw hydropower scheme is 100% owned by the community and is expected to generate almost 4.3 million kWh each year – enough to power more than 1,000 homes.

Initial support for the project was secured through the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme. The final funding package of £6.5m also included £2.23m from the Energy Investment Fund, which is administered by Scottish Enterprise.

Work on the community hub, which includes workspace and a cafe, finished earlier this year and it opened to the public in July. Three new one-bedroom houses were also completed, and the new tenants have moved in.

Jane Stuart-Smith, chair of the MCDC, said: “The income from the scheme will be an important source of investment into local development priorities. Its development also gives the Morvern community a strategic stake in the energy supply on the peninsula.

“Of course, none of this would have been possible without the thousands of hours of volunteer effort given by members of the local community – a massive thank you to all involved.”

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