Old Knock School fits biggest solar array in Western Isles

Alasdair Nicholson (Point and Sandwick Trust), Donald John MacSween (Point and Sandwick Trust), Donna Smith and Donald MacSween (Greenspacelive) pictured outside Àros an Rubha (Old Knock School). Photograph: Sandie Maciver. NO F19 Knock solar array
Alasdair Nicholson (Point and Sandwick Trust), Donald John MacSween (Point and Sandwick Trust), Donna Smith and Donald MacSween (Greenspacelive) pictured outside Àros an Rubha (Old Knock School). Photograph: Sandie Maciver. NO F19 Knock solar array

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Knock Energy Hub on Lewis is roaring ahead with its commitment to make its community building, Aros An Rubha, as self-sufficient as possible.

Urras Stòras An Rubha (USAR) wants the building to run on its own renewable power, eventually becoming entirely off-grid.

Working towards that goal, new solar panels were fitted in April and will feed
into the energy supply powering the community hub.

Funded by the Local Energy Scotland Cares Fund, the solar panels are the biggest array fitted to a community building in the Western Isles and represent a massive investment in the area’s renewable energy.

The £1million refurbishment project is making significant progress and once completed will be home once again to Bùth an Rubha, Café Roo, Comann Eachdraidh an Rubha and community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.

In addition, the new building will include museum and exhibition space for Comann Eachdraidh an Rubha and Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe, archives and storage
for the Rudhach community paper, a meeting room and potential for hotdesking.

Donna Smith from Tighean Innse Gall is project managing the build which is being delivered by O’Mac Construction. Local energy engineering firm Greenspacelive is closley involved with the energy-efficient renewables installations.

Point and Sandwick Trust has made its biggest capital investment in the project – a grant of £300,000 – and PST Community Consultants have worked hard to bring inward investment to the island via bids including the Local Energy Scotland Cares Fund and a £75,000 grant from Centrica’s Energy for Tomorrow programme to fit electric vehicle charging units at the site.

General manager Donald John MacSween said: ‘Point and Sandwick Trust are long-term tenants of the Old School building and long-term supporters of the work and the vision of Urras Stòras An Rubha for the new community hub.

‘This is a fantastic example of community groups, local businesses and partners working together with an ambitious aim, to create a cutting edge, sustainable hub for Point and Sandwick.

‘We are pleased to see the new solar panels being fitted and look forward to watching the project succeed.

‘Work on Aros An Rubha continues and the Buth an Rubha shop is back open in the new space.’

CAPTION: Alasdair Nicholson and Donald John MacSween, Point and Sandwick Trust; Donna Smith and Donald MacSween, Greenspacelive, outside Àros an Rubha. Photograph: Sandie Maciver.