Construction of a community wind turbine expected to generate an income of £2.3 million over the next 25 years has been completed.
The blades of the 74m-tall turbine on the northern outskirts of Berwick were lifted into place earlier this week, although a connection delay means it is not expected to be working until March.
It is great news for Berwick Community Trust which has worked up the £1.5 million project for more than five years.
Julien Lake, chief executive, said: “It is fantastic to see the unit up and we are really excited about a long phase of the Trust’s work coming to a conclusion.
“The turbine really is going to make a tremendous difference to the Trust’s ability to sustain its work in Berwick.”
The construction should have been finished before Christmas but there was a technical issue with one of the blades and then strong winds made it unsafe to do the work.
Now that the blades have been connected there is a short commissioning process but unfortunately the grid connection has not yet been completed by Scottish Power Networks so it is likely to be March before the turbine starts working properly.
The deal is being financed by Berwick Core Ltd, Baxendale Invest, Verco and Advance Renewables.
The 500 kilowatt turbine, sited midway between the A1 road to Edinburgh and the main East Coast railway line next to the Ramparts Business Park, will generate enough electricity for 450 homes.
It is thought this is the first time any community trust in the country has been involved in a deal structured in this way, to generate renewable energy on a commercial scale.
Sixty per cent of the lifetime income generated from the turbine will go to Berwick CoRE – a company now wholly owned by the Trust – with the remainder shared by the bank and other partners.
Eighty per cent of the income from the turbine going to Berwick CoRE will be retained by the Trust with the remainder going to the original CoRE company. The Trust will receive an initial payment of just over £100,000 then another £54,000 in the first year of the turbine’s operation, with annual income rising to more than £100,000 in Year 12.
All in all the income will add up to an estimated £2.3m at today’s prices that will safeguard the Trust’s financial future.
“It is going to make a real difference to Berwick for very many years,” said Mr Lake.
He also revealed that, as well as supporting the Trust’s work, some of the income from the unit will be used to establish a grant fund for supporting other community energy projects across the north east.
Details of this are still being worked up but it will be administered by the Trust.