Two south Aberdeenshire energy farms are helping to turn wind into beer for the good of the planet.
The Tullo and Twinshiels windfarms at Laurencekirk, operated by Eneco UK, provide international brewers Heineken with a quarter of all its electricity needs.
In so doing, the energy farms help sustain the firm’s green intentions and credentials.
Martin Kochl, brewery manager with Heineken, said: “For more than 150 years we have been producing beer and we want to produce beer for much longer and to be able to do that we need to show our commitment and we have to be sustainable as a brewer.”
Heineken has a corporate vision called Brewing a Better World, which sets 2020 as a target by which time it wants to have reduced carbon emissions by 40% in production and sourced 50% of its raw materials from sustainable sources.
Heineken receives electricity from the grid in the traditional way, but buys green certificates to prove that 25% of its electricity in the UK is coming from renewable sources.
As owners and managers of Tullo and Twinshiels, Eneco Wind are the UK division of a Dutch company that has invested in a sustainable model built around the notion of decentralised power.
Guy Madgwick, director of Eneco UK, said: “Building the assets primarily in Scotland, investing nearly £300-million into that market then gave us the platform to be able to say OK, now we need to be able to sell that power, not just through the grid as normally can be done, but we want to find like-minded customers so that we develop partnerships.”
Heineken was one such like-minded customer.
Eneco also has a policy of working with communities from towns and villages that their developments neighbour.
Their strategy of community engagement at Laurencekirk has seen local schoolchildren name the 42MW wind farms and a percentage of the contracted workforce that built the turbines also came from the local area.
A wildlife walk was established at the perimeter of Collardo Farm and opened in September last year, allowing birdwatchers to come and observe the indigenous birdlife, as well as providing a footpath for local families to enjoy.
One of the most popular initiatives has been the channelling of a percentage of operating profits from the project into a community fund.
This fund is managed locally and distributed to support various projects in the towns and villages in the area.
Susie Brown, pictured, chairwoman of Mearns Area Partnership, said: “The general feeling in the community is that Eneco are being good neighbours and are valuing the community and appreciating that they may not all like the turbines, but in the main people do.”