SSE Renewables gave €1.1 million in funding to 412 community groups near its wind farms in the Republic of Ireland in the last year.

In Northern Ireland, £445,000 (€520,000) was provided to communities, with 139 projects supported in 2020/2021.

Meanwhile, in Great Britain, nearly £9 million (€10.5 million) was awarded to 472 projects. In Ireland, SSE Renewables is the largest generator of wind power. This week it published its annual Community Investment Review.

A total of 1,023 community projects have been supported, from building community-owned housing in the Scottish Highlands to funding education scholarships for students from Northern Ireland and improving outdoor sports grounds in Connemara.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company said it would provide 10% of the annual awards from its funds to support rural areas to cope with the Covid-19 emergency. It invested over €2 million towards pandemic-related projects across the UK and Ireland.

2021/22 priorities

SSE Renewables outlined its priorities for the coming year, with the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) being top of the list. "In line with RESS Good Practice Guidelines we will enhance and develop our community benefit policy and commitments," the company said. Meanwhile, the company expects that local consultation will be completed in the next year to determine "the priorities and focus of the community fund" for those local to the Lenalea Wind Farm.

Lenalea received the green light for development and construction after it won a 15-year contract in the first round of the RESS.

The Co. Donegal wind farm is a co-development project with Coillte. The wind farm entered construction in 2021 and aims to be operational by 2023. Arklow Bank Wind Park is also being prioritised, and "consultation with communities and key stakeholders" is ongoing.

Arklow Bank Wind Park Phase 2 will be located in the Irish Sea off the coast of Arklow, Co. Wicklow. The 520MW offshore wind project is the next phase of wind energy development at the Arklow Bank.

"By 2025, SSE Renewables intends to install up to 62 turbines, with the ability to power almost 450,000 homes annually and offset over half a million tonnes of carbon emissions each year."