After five long, turbulent and emotional years Saturday saw the official “opening” of Tilley, Tiree’s Community Turbine.
The project has suffered many delays and setbacks, weather has intervened, ferries been cancelled, equipment developed faults and a mass of paperwork and forms had to be completed and submitted to various agencies. The fact that Tilley has been built at all is a testament to the hard work and perseverance of many people, particularly the TREL directors and their supporters.
Costing approximately £2.1million and at a height of 75m to the tip of her blades, Tilley is an Enercon E-44 model, specially designed to be located in areas of high winds and she should have a life span of 20 years – all the while generating an income for the Tiree Community.
In the first hour of operation Tilley produced and exported to the grid 0.283mwh of energy. Putting that into terms that we can relate to it means we could boil 1886 kettles making 11,316 cups of tea!
As the coach carrying the members of TREL, the Trust, and representatives from The Co-operative bank, Enercon, CalMac, TC Young Solicitors, Community Energy Scotland and our meteorology adviser arrived, it was greeted by three young ladies (Mhairi MacKinnon, Fiona MacKinnon and Eilidh MacFadyen) playing the pipes, and an impressive crowd of locals who had turned out on a grey afternoon to witness this historical event.
Bruce Kemp, Chair or TREL made a brief speech and Rev. Peter Williams gave a Blessing of thanks for the harnessing of God given Natural resources and asking that the community spirit would enable us all to be good stewards of the rewards of the turbine and that these would be spent in a way honourable to God and for the good of the community.
In true spirit of the occasion tradition was cast aside as Tish MacKinnon, Chair of the Trust, cut a green ribbon and to the applause of the assembled crowd Tilley was officially declared open.
An invitation was extended to those who wished to meet at An Talla where Champagne was served along with tea, coffee and a truly wonderful selection of cakes.
Following a quick tidy up of the hall the celebrations continued in the evening with a well attended Family Dance, the music was provided by some of the many talented Tiree musicians and a raffle was held with a generous amount of prizes donated by individuals and local businesses.
Now we should start thinking about the future, as Tish said before cutting the ribbon “each time the blades turn Tilley is generating an income for the Island”. Maybe not in the early years but as time goes on and the outstanding loans reduce there will be money available for spending on projects to benefit the community.
How the money from the Tiree Windfall Fund should be used will be decided by the Trust and they would like to know your views on this and they will be holding a further meeting to explain more about how the Fund might be operated, to which everyone is invited.
More detailed information about Tilley is available free from the Trust.
A word from Bruce
I would like to say a very big thank you to Liz Lapsley, Lloyd Gudgeon, all of the Trust directors who helped to organise the official opening of Tilley the turbine on Saturday and to everybody who turned out to support it, including representatives from Enercon, the Co-op Bank, CES, Argyll Estates, SNH and TC Young who all helped us along the way and came to join in the celebrations.
It was an excellent day and a fun evening of music and dance highlighting the ever-present young musical talent on Tiree.
There are many ways to look at this turbine project. You can see it as a community effort to reduce our carbon imprint, and it will certainly do that. Over an average year the turbine will generate 3100MWh of electricity, enough to power over 620 homes. The equivalent power sourced from the grid would produce 1600 tonnes of CO2.
In money-making terms it will provide significant revenue to the Tiree Community Development Trust totalling several million pounds over its lifetime.
But to me it is about empowerment. It is about empowering a community to take charge of its destiny, to decide what it is we want to achieve and to give us the means to achieve it. Now that the turbine is exporting power it is harnessing a resource that Tiree has plenty of and every turn of the blades generates not just electrical power but also the ability to turn dreams into reality. Power to the people!
I would like to thank everybody who has supported this project in any way, with voluntary effort and time, financially, professionally and commercially. The project has taken many thousands of hours of freely given voluntary work on the part of the TREL board and I would particularly like to thank them, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with them.
Thanks too, to you, the people of Tiree for supporting us through the process and for your patience and forbearance during and after the construction.
Comment on behalf of Argyll Estates
I was very encouraged to see so many faces, both young and old, at the opening of the new Tiree Community Wind Turbine, which in more ways than one is a landmark achievement leaving no one in any doubt that Tiree leads by example.
When the Estate agreed to give up the land for the project, my main concern was the local reaction to what many may have perceived to be a “blot on the landscape”. In fact this was not the case and indeed on my ferry journey into Tiree I realised how wrong perception can be as Tilley has proved to be a most unobtrusive and graceful design.
The turbine in the main seems to have been embraced by the Islanders, and rightly so, given the enormous financial benefits such a development will generate. Yes it has been a long hard road for those involved, however I think all of us with an interest in the Island should see Tilley the Turbine as a monument to a job well done; a flag flying for an island whose community has taken up the baton and run with it, showing a progressive and forward thinking approach to sustainable community development.
Well done to you all for giving such support and well done to those involved in TREL for making it all happen.
Factor , Argyll Estates
And a Thank You from TCDT
Tiree Community Development Trust would like to thank everyone who turned out on Saturday to celebrate the opening of Tilley the Tiree Turbine.
In particular, thanks go to Agrimarine, Cal Mac, Rockvale, Chocolate & Charms, Enercon, Co-operative Bank and Martrain for their very generous contributions, and to Atlantic Edge Hotels for the many bottles of bubbly.
The band were great and the pipers were excellent. Thanks also to all the volunteers who baked, brewed and served up the lunches, teas and cakes, and who then tidied up afterwards and donated raffle prizes. We’d also like to thank the supporters who could not make it on Saturday, particularly Mary Jean Devon and the other local councillors, and of course the Big Lottery. Lastly, the biggest thanks of all to you, the community, for being patient in your support for this brilliant project.