A century ago a mini-hydro scheme existed on the River Gynack that runs through Kingussie in the Scottish Highlands. The installation once provided electricity to the Grampian Sanatorium, a well-known treatment centre for tuberculosis, but fell into disrepair with the introduction of national grid infrastructure to the town.
In 2005 members of the Kingussie and Vicinity Community Council (KVCC) who later set up the Kingussie Community Development Company (K.C.D.C.) began to plan the revival of the hydro scheme. Nine years later a new 20kW turbine was installed on site.
Donald Grant, one of K.C.D.C.’s directors, says: “Having local residents with valuable skills, such as a semi-retired chartered engineer and treasurer, has been a real boon. We hope that our experiences will help other community groups take forward their energy projects.”
Legal structure & set-up
The hydro scheme is now managed by K.C.D.C. a limited company with charitable status. A sub-committee of the board that includes a member of the Kingussie and Vicinity Community Council oversees the day- to-day business of the scheme.
The hydro installation will provide electricity directly to a nearby golf club, which in turn feeds into the national grid. Profits from sales of electricity to the national grid and Feed- in Tariff (FIT) payments go to K.C.D.C. . In addition, the golf club pays K.C.D.C. a set fee per KWh that is approximately one third cheaper than a standard tariff. It is estimated that the project will generate £10,000 (€12,500) to run K.C.D.C. and fund other community initiatives.
The overall cost of the scheme is estimated at £200,000 (€253,000). This was largely covered through a number of non-public grants including funding from Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), the players of People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund and the Greenshoots Fund which has been set up by FMC Technologies Dunfermline and is open to Scottish applicants only. However, early on K.C.D.C. secured £93,000 (€116,000) worth of LEADER II funding from the European Union, which covered almost half the cost of the project. Shortly after the UK government brought forward a policy change that meant community energy schemes were no longer eligible for public grant funding and simultaneously benefit from Feed-in Tariff payments. K.C.D.C. chose FITs and returned the LEADER II grant.
K.C.D.C also tried to be cost effective by teaming up with a larger hydro scheme for the construction but the timeframes for both projects were incompatible.
Finally K.C.D.C. gave up on its vision of using an Archimedes screw which makes the mechanism visible and more accessible for educational purposes due to funding constraints.
- Financial decisions
- Change in UK policy that impact on funding
- Income generation for K.C.D.C. and community development initiatives
- Potential for educational benefits
- Kingussie Golf Club benefits from renewable electricity
Size of Community
150 K.C.D.C. members that represent wider population of 1500
Type of Energy Project
Stage of Development
Having local residents with valuable skills, such as a semi-retired chartered engineer and treasurer, has been a real boon. We hope that our experiences will help other community groups take forward their energy projects.
Donald Grant - K.C.D.C.
Early 20th century
Original hydro plant provided electricity for tuberculosis treatment center
Idea to revive site of former hydro scheme
K.C.D.C. is incorporated
Receives £65,386 from players of People’s Postcode Lottery