Independent Scottish renewable energy developer Muirhall Energy has unveiled the country’s largest subsidy-free onshore wind farm following the completion of Crossdykes in Dumfries and Galloway.
Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson MSP officially opened the £50 million 10-turbine wind farm, 13km north-east of Lockerbie, which has the capacity to generate enough clean green electricity to power 45,000 homes.
Mr Matheson also announced Muirhall Energy’s Community Shared Ownership scheme, with the local community taking a five per cent stake in the project. This will ensure a significant income stream of around £4 million over the lifetime of the windfarm and is the largest community investment in renewables since 2017. This is also the first time that a community has bought into a subsidy-free wind farm in Scotland.
The Lanarkshire-based firm is a leading developer of renewable energy projects in Scotland, with a community-focused ethos which has overseen the development of some of the industry’s largest Community Benefit Funds. As a result, residents local to Crossdykes Wind Farm will also benefit from an annual pot of £322,000, amounting to £8 million over the lifetime of the project.
Chris Walker, Managing Director at Muirhall Energy, said: “Crossdykes is a flagship project for Muirhall Energy and is the biggest project we have built to date. It is not only our largest community investment fund but also our first Community Shared Ownership scheme.
“As the country’s largest subsidy-free onshore wind farm, Crossdykes is the first to be built using commercial lending rather than funded ‘off balance sheet’. The future of the renewable energy sector, that ensures the fastest possible progress to net zero, will be dependent on moving beyond public subsidy. That is exactly what we have done here.
“This project shows that there is a place for Community Shared Ownership in renewable energy developments despite the different business models that are required to get projects financed. It is important that the industry responds to the clear appetite in communities across the country to buy into local wind farm projects.
“Muirhall Energy has a really exciting development portfolio with almost 1GW of projects going into the planning process over the next two years. The work we have done at Crossdykes will act as a blueprint for our future developments, where we want to deliver the same business model and benefits to the local community.”
Michael Matheson MSP, the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, said: “As one of the biggest shared ownership projects of its kind in Scotland, the Crossdykes project is contributing to our ambitions for at least half of all newly consented commercial renewable energy project to have an element of shared ownership with communities. Its innovative ownership model will also provide helpful insight into how the sector and communities can work together to develop similar partnerships in the future.
“I am delighted that our Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) and the Energy Investment Fund were able to support to the community drive the project forward and look forward to it playing a strong role in the community’s just transition to a net-zero future.”
Chris Miles, leading on behalf of the communities, said: “We are excited to be such a fundamental part of this Shared Ownership scheme. This agreement is hugely important for all of our communities but critical for future generations. Muirhall Energy have shown that they are fully committed to sharing the success of their developments among all in the area and we are delighted to be working in partnership with them.”
Chris Morris, Local Energy Scotland manager, said: “Local Energy Scotland is delighted to have provided support and funding to the local community from the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES). The success of this project is testament to the determination of both Muirhall Energy and the communities and individuals involved.
“This is the first ever agreement of its kind on a subsidy-free wind farm in Scotland and we are confident that this will be the first of many similar successful projects with Muirhall and with other wind farm owners throughout Scotland.”
Muirhall Energy is also behind the proposed Teviot Wind Farm development, 10km south of Hawick, as well as the Glen Ullinish II Wind Farm on Skye. It has constructed more than 120MW of onshore wind projects throughout the UK and has more than 1GW in its development pipeline.
The Crossdykes development was constructed in partnership with WWS Renewables and project-financed by Close Brothers Asset Finance. The wind farm’s 10 turbines were supplied by Nordex.