South Wheatley Environmental Trust Wind Turbine Project: An Innovation History

October 2012, Sabine Hielscher

The South Wheatley wind turbine is a hamlet-based community-owned renewable project located in North Cornwall (set in a labyrinth of narrow lanes near Launceston). The project is run by a Trust, to which members are elected on a yearly basis, and regularly meet up to discuss the project. The Trust has been generating energy from their 15kW wind turbine since 2007, selling it to the grid and investing the surplus in local household energy efficiency projects (run as a grant scheme), renewable energy projects and energy conservation education at local schools. This innovation history traces the development of the South Wheatley Environmental Trust wind turbine project from its conception in 2004, through its development to the turbine’s installation and running phase (including numerous technical setbacks and the set-up of a grant scheme) from 2007-2012. This is a story of a pioneering individual who has been tenacious enough to set up a community-owned wind turbine project, rescuing it a few times to keep it going.

South Wheatley Innovation History

Community Energy Innovation Histories

CISE is conducting 12 in-depth case studies of community energy projects, to better understand how these innovations emerge, develop, spread and grow.

Each case study is written up as an ‘Innovation History’, allowing participants to explain their own individual stories, with researcher reflections and insights inserted into the text.

Ro Randall – founder of Carbon Conversations – stated how the innovation history approach, and conceiving of Carbon Conversations as an ‘innovation’, had made her think about things in a new way. She says:

“Reading your draft has helped me reflect on the relationship between innovation/innovators and the networks of people and support that give them space to innovate. Innovation often gets seen as having an ’author’, rather than being a group or network product and although I was pivotal, Andy’s role was absolutely key. I could have innovated my socks off but without his technical expertise – from knowledge of the science and technology, through to his ability to manage the finances and website – little would have happened. Beyond that there has been a much larger network of people who have contributed to the project and perhaps don’t get recognised as they should. Maybe there are inevitable tensions between innovative projects and the environments that nurture them. Good reflective practice can certainly be helped by having people from the outside taking a look – they see different things, offer other frameworks and that can be really useful.”

We hope you enjoy our Innovation Histories, we will make them available here throughout 2012 as they are completed.