Deciding on Your Project

This section of the resource is about giving you the essential information required for you to proceed further with your project.

Overview
Why develop a project?
What types of projects are out there?
Starting Up
Actions Checklist
Risk Assessment
Skills Checklist
Selecting an organisational structure
Outline a project plan and cost

Why develop a project?

Communities wishing to regenerate their local area need funds to do so and therefore look for ways of generating their own income.  What better way than to use the natural resources available on your doorstep to generate a sustainable income? There are many community groups across Scotland currently taking forward renewable energy projects which are seen as routes to strengthening communities in a number of ways:

  • There are real examples of communities progressing and successfully completing complex renewable generating projects - the first such fully community owned project was completed by the Isle of Gigha Community in 2004 with the installation of 3 wind turbines.
  • A community that generates its own renewable energy can make an important contribution to reducing its dependence on fossil fuels. This in turn can lead to a greater awareness of energy issues, increased energy efficiency across the community and a reduction in energy costs and carbon emissions
  • The income generated from such projects can be significant for communities and can lead to self sufficiency for community organisations and re-investment in the local area, reducing grant dependency.
  • Individuals may wish to pool their resources and set up a community co-operative. Operated on a commercial scale, these projects can add significantly to the local economy. See section 9.3 - The Cooperative Model.

Larger-scale renewable energy projects are complex and can take many years to come to fruition but the benefits to the community are very significant in terms of size of income and longevity. Community Energy Scotland is here to help your community every step of the journey.

Relevant documents and links:
Isle of Gigha Community Owned Wind Turbine

 

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What types of projects are out there?

We know that there are many different types of projects out there and we realise that you, as a community, may not know which type to take on. There is a broad range of technologies that have been used by community groups across Scotland and we understand that if you are new to the concept of energy generation, you may need to know a little more about each.

Community Energy Scotland developed the Government’s Community Renewable Toolkit, a great resource which discusses the principles of how the technology works and the key issues in relation to installation and operation. To access this resource, click here.

To show Case Studies of past projects and the different technologies they have employed, we are currently working on a new Project Database.

Relevant documents and links:
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2009/03/20155542/5

 

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Actions Checklist

Community Energy Scotland’s Actions Checklist splits each Section into Modules with Actions to complete. The Actions Checklist is a useful tool for creating an Outline Project Plan for your community.

Relevant documents and links:
Actions Checklist

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Risk Assessment

Use Community Energy Scotland’s Risk Assessment to prioritise the actions in your Outline Project Plan. For instance if you think Planning Permission could be a show-stopper for your project, you should request a Screening/Scoping Opinion before paying out money for a grid study.

Relevant documents and links:
Risk Assessment

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Skills Checklist

Use the Skills Checklist to identify missing skills and expertise from your committee, and to determine what training you may need.

1. Does your group have the commitment and capacity to take forward a large and complex project?

Before embarking on a project, you must be sure that there is a high level of commitment by the group. These projects can be time consuming and complex. They are not projects that can easily be taken forward by one or two people alone. You will need a number of volunteers who are willing to be in it for the long haul. In the first instance a community development trust, community council or community association can be the body which can serve to facilitate discussions about a renewable energy project.

For more information on development trusts, how to set one up or to find out if there is already one in the area, visit www.dtascot.org.uk. Further information on community councils can be gained from the Association of Scottish Community Councils at www.ascc.org.uk.

Large projects can take several years to reach completion and can face technical, regulatory and financial challenges. A community working on such projects will therefore generally require setting up a group dedicated to the renewable energy project which has input from well organised, resourceful and determined individuals. To learn more about this, follow this link to section 8 of the Community Renewable Toolkit. It is important to ensure that participation in such a group can be open to all community members. If there are members of the community that are willing to volunteer and have project development, technical, engineering, financial/accountancy, or legal skills, these could be very valuable to a community project. However, communities should be clear that all the work necessary to deliver a project need not be through volunteer effort. Where there are skill shortages e.g. technology, finance, legal etc, industry professional advice should be bought in. Early recognition of this is essential to ensure provision is made in project budgets and funding applications.

It should be recognised that for all communities the project development process can lead to a massive up-skilling of a community group and give it the confidence to tackle further, even more ambitious projects for the benefit of its community.

For communities that do not have the capacity or desire to take forward a wholly community owned development there may be opportunities to liaise and partner with commercial and professional organisations developing renewable projects in their locality. This is discussed further in Section 7 of the toolkit.

2. What viable renewable energy resources do you have available within your locality?

Wind or hydro power offer the most viable opportunities for generating and selling electricity as the technologies involved are well established. If there is an extensive available source of wood nearby, a biomass-based district heating system may be possible, or perhaps even a combined heat and power plant. This latter option is likely to be quite complex owing to the pipe network infrastructure required although it may be an option if the community has a high density of housing or there are a number of nearby heat and power demands - e.g. school, sports centre, swimming pool, in close proximity. For large scale projects, however, wind and hydro are the most feasible.

An important first task is to determine the skills that will be required and to assess which skills are available within your community.
Skills Required

The community will gain more from a project if they are driving and managing it themselves. A good way of achieving this is to draw a map of all of the skills available within the group and community.
It is important to reach a balance between local skills and knowledge and specialised expertise. In some situations the local knowledge will be more valuable than specialised services. There will be other situations in which investment in expertise advice will be cost effective in the long term, for example with one off pieces of work such as a feasibility study.

The following table will help you determine where the skills which may be already present in the community can be applied to the project.

It may be that there is a good idea of what the best resources are in the community. On the other hand a resource assessment to identify the best options for the community may need to be undertaken.

To enquire about a renewable energy resource assessment, visit the “Contact Us” page on the Communiy Energy Scotland Website.
 

Relevant documents and links:

Skills Checklist
www.dtascot.org.uk
www.ascc.org.uk
section 8
Section 7

 

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Selecting an Organisational Structure

To take forward any project on behalf of a community, it’s important to be aware of the various types of organisation that you can set up. It’s important that you select the most suitable organisational structure for your community. This section of our Knowledge Centre offers some guidance in making you selection. Have a look at our Organisational Types table. It’s a guide to the legal structures most commonly associated with social enterprise; giving key information on each. There are a variety of legal requirements associated with setting up the structures described, however, and you should consider seeking professional advice before your organisation/community adopts any one of them.

Relevant documents and links:
Organisational Types table

 

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Outlining a Project Plan and Costs

It’s important from the beginning of your project to be organised and be aware of the actions you need to take. Our Monthly Project Plan is a useful guide to help you manage your time and plan your project. The guide follows the actions relevant to the first three modules of the Action Checklist and also gives a suggested time frame for each.

At this stage in the process, we are looking at the costs of the pre-development stages with the intention to further discuss the funding and finance of the development stages later. The Costs resource sets out the typical estimated costs for wind and hydro projects at this early stage in your project.
It is important to build a realistic picture of the project’s costs and potential incomes as early as possible in the development process, early negotiation with turbine suppliers, finance lenders can help develop indicative costs. This will allow you to assess the viability of the project early on.

For large scale projects costs are likely to run over a million pounds, e.g. a 900kW scale single wind turbine project, taking into account all necessary works, is likely to be cost in the range of £1.3 – £1.5m. Typically projects have been financed with a mixture of grant and loan finance.

Relevant documents and links:
Monthly Project Plan
Costs

 

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