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Wind-win situation

There are some collaborations which make perfect sense. For Berwickshire Housing Association, the opportunity to join forces with Community Energy Scotland was perfect; a way harness the abundance of wind, and secure the future for social housing tenants. The Hoprigshiels wind farm marks the first time that a housing association and renewable energy charity have joined forces.

The three turbine scheme at Hoprigshiels will have an installed capacity of 7.5MW and will export just under 25 million kilowatt-hours each year – enough energy to power around 5,900 households. Hoprigshiels will also save 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

But the real impact will be felt for social housing tenants, as proceeds of the energy sales will build 500 new homes over the next 25 years.

Beyond the rising and fluctuating costs of building new properties, rural communities face fierce competition for homes simply because there is a lack of supply.

Helen Forsyth, Chief Executive of Berwickshire Housing Association describes the difficulties social housing providers have in helping rural communities:

“The demand for affordable housing has never been higher, yet there are significant challenges to building new accommodation that we can let at affordable rents. Many of the communities we serve in Berwickshire are small, sometimes with difficult access, and often with challenging sites. This leads directly to higher building costs. This wind farm will provide a significant additional source of income, beyond the rents we charge to our tenants and opens up new opportunities for us to meet housing need whilst keeping rents affordable.”

Beyond the rising and fluctuating costs of building new properties, rural communities face fierce competition for homes simply because there is a lack of supply.

“We estimate the income arising will enable the Association to build an additional 20 homes per year. In Berwickshire this is highly significant. For each home we have available to let we can receive up to 40 applications from eligible households, this means every time we let a house, on average, 39 households who need a home are disappointed.”

This truly innovative partnership also creates a blue-print for future renewable energy/housing association partnerships.

“As a Housing Association we are part of a movement; we do not compete against each other, at least not in the commercial sense, but all strive for common purpose, the meeting of housing need. In this way we are pleased to share our experiences with our colleagues in other housing associations and vice versa.

“This leads to a healthy and often fruitful exchange of information and experiences. Many Housing Associations have followed our progress with interest and we have shared our growing knowledge of renewables. This has led directly to developments by others, in the application of PVs for example, and although we cannot say our experience of Hoprigshiels will lead to further housing association wind farms, we can say with confidence that our experience builds sector knowledge and will inform the actions and decisions of others” concluded Helen.

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Rob 3 years ago

Fabulous concept – I just hope the new homes are also as energy efficient as possible….preferably Passivhaus or better so that residents can step out of the fuel poverty trap and enjoy optimal health and wellbeing.