There’s so much happening around community renewable energy projects at the moment that we tend to think they are a new idea. Baywind, which has been running a community wind farm since 1996, shows just how mistaken that view is.
In March 2012 I filmed interviews with Annette Heslop, Director and Secretary of Baywind Energy Co-operative Ltd and also a director of Energy4All; Richard Scott, a director who has been involved since the project began and Jack Heslop who maintains the turbines on the Harlock Hill site and has first-hand experience of the impact of the site on birds (*see below). Just click on the name to see the interview.
Baywind, the UK’s first community wind farm co-operative, has over 1300 members with a stake in two wind farms in Cumbria. In addition to five turbines at Harlock Hill, Baywind owns one of the four turbines at Haverigg II Wind Farm which is sited on a disused airfield. Returns on investment between 1998 and 2008 averaged 6.3% (20% higher for EIS investors).The success of the co-operative lead to the establishment of Energy4All which works with community groups and landowners to develop renewable energy projects that are wholly or partially owned by a community co-operative.
In addition to Baywind the Energy4All ‘family’ of co-operatives consists of:
- Westmill Wind Farm with five 1.3MW turbines and 2,374 members
- Fenland Green Power with eight 2MW turbines and 1,078 members
- Boyndie Wind Farm with seven 2MW turbines and 716 members
- Isle of Skye Renewables with ten 2.3MW turbines and 569 members
- Great Glen Energy with sixteen 2.5MW turbines and 677 members
- Kilbraur Wind Energy with nineteen 2.5MW turbines and 517 members
- Findhorn Wind Farm with three 225KW, one 50KW turbine and 200 residents
* Just a few days after I interviewed Jack Heslop the Journal of Applied Ecology published a study on the impact of wind farms on wild birds. The study was by naturalists and ornithologists from the RSPB, British Trust for Ornithology and Scottish Natural Heritage. The study “found little evidence for differences in population trends between operational wind farms and reference sites. This implies that any increase in mortality through collision with operating turbines, or other changes associated with wind farm operation, has little effect on local populations.”
Surveys did find that some species were adversely effected during the construction of wind farms and suggests possible measures to mitigate this. You can see the full article online here.