Plans to bring solar energy to the James Hutton Institute will embolden green ‘people power’ projects in future, those behind the scheme hope.
If approved, a solar array will be built on land on the north side of the A90 near the Swallow roundabout.
It is hoped the community-owned renewables project could generate around £1 million for local communities over its initial 20 year lifespan.
Underground cables will power the world-leading land and crop research centre and provide a large chunk of its energy needs
Joshua Msika, sustainability co-ordinator at the James Hutton Institute, hailed the initiative, saying it will bring “climate and social benefits”.
“It will provide us with zero-carbon electricity at an affordable price. In exchange, our electricity bill will fund community projects in our area while offering shareholders a reasonable return.”
How local communities could get up to a £1 million
It is not a commercial enterprise, but run co-operative of local and national charitable groups.
It is expected that more than a quarter of the James Hutton Institute’s electricity consumption will be generated by the solar panels.
The solar array will generate at least £10,000 a year for community groups.
Dundee Renewable Energy Society (DRES), Energy4All and the James Hutton Institute itself are working together on the plans.
DRES is a non-profit community benefit society, or co-operative, made up of volunteers. It was established in 2018.
Richard McCready, DRES director, said: “Over 20 years we hope to give around a million pounds back to the community.
“If this project comes off it will be done with local people, as opposed to being done to local people.
“We hope it will lead to investment for further projects.”
The solar meadow will be funded by a share offer. People can join the co-operative to invest in the project and receive a return on their investment, as well as helping local projects.
Tayside’s James Hutton Institute specialises in crop, land and other agricultural research.
The UK Government’s Iain Stewart praised its scientists in August 2021 and added the institutes work could contribute towards “feeding the world.”
The solar array will represent a ten-fold increase in the amount of renewable energy available at the James Hutton Institute.
Planning permission for part of the project is currently being considered by Perth & Kinross Council.
As the land straddles the Dundee and Perthshire border, another application will be lodged with Dundee City Council later.