News update 10th January 2021
As we begin 2021 we are very hopeful that the growth in the community energy sector will continue and that here on Arran we will be able to be a part of it. However, over the holiday period we have been waiting for some key factors to be resolved and as we come to the end of the first working week back, it is looking increasingly likely that they won't.
Insurance for the hospitality industry has greatly increased since the fire in Cameron House Hotel and the view on cover has changed. Altho our project is limited to the Auchrannie sports hall roof, the insurance brokers and underwriters are strongly advising we have substantial public liability insurance due to fact the building is part of a hotel. The solar pv scheme on the Auchrannie sports hall roof quotes, from multiple insurers, have come back at around £5-6,000 per year.
These ongoing costs are out of the scheme's budget, in a project of this size that is not something we can take on. All the professional advice and support from other community groups around the country we have received, have not come across this issue before. Our steering group have made considerable efforts to find a practical or legal solution. We can't find another community project like ours that has been on a hotel, if this project were on almost any other type of business or ground mounted, we understand we would not be in this situation.
This project has been pushed to a point where almost every other element is in place and ready to proceed so it is quite a blow to find this has been such a showstopper. It is very important to remember that the experience gained by us all so far is valuable and the capacity within the team and wider community support has been proven.
We are continuing to work with our development officer at CARES on solutions and alternatives. At this stage we are not sure what the next steps will be but there is still a window of opportunity to find another site. The grant we have been offered could be used for a different Arran business that fits the criteria. We are optimistic that we can identify a different site and will continue to keep you updated.
We would like to thank the board of the Auchrannie for their support and the time they have given to this during a period of considerable uncertainty for them. Their ambition to reduce their carbon footprint and understanding of the importance of environmental issues is very encouraging.
After considerable evaluation the Scottish Government's ‘Community And Renewable Energy Scheme’ invited us to submit an application for the Solar PV project on the sports hall roof of the Auchrannie Hotel in Brodick and we very excited to have successfully received an offer of funding. This will be managed by Local Energy Scotland and is for a 60% capital grant and a further £24k enablement grant.
This funding will provide technical, legal and commercial support. It will allow us to negotiate a grid connection and provide the resources to set up Arran Community Renewables, this new Community Benefit Society.
This would be the first community owned renewable energy on Arran and we hope the first of many. It has the potential to be a template for other high energy buildings on Arran to reduce their carbon emissions and help build a community benefit fund that can progress other environmental work.
Why did we choose the Auchrannie?
Our criteria were a scheme that is financially sound, with a proven technology, a building with a constant and reliable energy use and an owner who is keen. The size and type of roof on the Auchrannie sports hall is good and the building is heated electrically so it has a high energy demand. The Auchrannie board have helped us get to this point and are very supportive.