Solar Power for the Community
The village halls in Bonar Bridge and Ardgay have become the first of 11 community buildings in the Highlands to benefit from free solar power - made possible by a £100,000 grant from SSE's Sustainable Development Fund.
Managed by leading charity Community Energy Scotland, and fully funded through SSE's onshore wind community benefit programme, the solar scheme was launched late last year iffering all community-owned organisations in the Highlands the opportunity of a free-of-charge 4kWp solar panel system for their building.
Each solar installation will generate approximately 3,200KWh (Kilowatt-hours) of electricity a year, leading to an annual energy cost reduction of around £800-£1000 per building for 20 years.
Of the 47 community groups that registered an interest, 11 were chosen for this initial programme which will be carried out by Highland firn Korrie Renewables.
The first solar power installations took place at Bonar Bridge Community Hall and Ardgay Public Hall last week. Panels will be fitted at Rosehall Village Hall and Pittentrail Recreation Hall, Rogart, later this month.
Linda Morrice, Chairperson of Bonar Bridge Community Hall, said: "Our community hall is a majour element in community life in Bonar Bridge and thanks to SSE we can now generate some of our own power, which will help the hall's finances for the years to come."
Graeme Keddie, head of Community Investment at SSE said: "It's great to see so many community organisations taking an active interest in reducing their energy consumption and we are delighted to be able to support their ambitions in such an efficient and collaborative way."
"By supporting their running costs over 20 years, our funding will help safeguard inportant local facilities and allow groups to divert savings towards their long-term community development plans."
The £100,000 grant to the PV2014 project was one of 30 awards made in the first round of SSE Highland Sustainable Development Fund. Provided as part of a community benefit programme from SSE's onshore wind farms, the fund is open to all non-profit making organisations, community groups and charities in the Highland region. It is expected to re-open for applications in Autumn 2015.