THE build of a centre of excellence for clean energy research in Cumnock will turn the area into Scotland’s green energy capital, East Ayrshire Council has said.
The National Energy Research Demonstrator (NERD) project will see the centre and two demonstrator houses be built on Knockroon Estate, with the local authority anticipating a completion date of Autumn 2023.
It comes following an investment of £17 million from the UK Government backed up with £7.5 million from the council, through the £251.5 million Ayrshire Growth deal – which is equally funded by the Scottish and UK governments.
The NERD project will look to harness existing and new energy technologies (such as hydrogen and geothermal heat) to provide solutions to produce and store energy and create a new, more flexible energy grid.
Those behind the initiative said that Cumnock and the surrounding areas provide a unique location to investigate a wide mix of energy technologies, due to the extent and scale of renewable energy developments in the vicinity and past history of mineral extraction activity in the area. NERD explained that, where solutions can be developed for the Cumnock area through the project, they can be ‘widely replicable’ in other Scottish, UK and European towns.
East Ayrshire Council added that a number of areas around Cumnock were considered, but the Knockroon estate was deemed most appropriate following assessments and evaluations due to its prominent location within Cumnock. Further to this is the key objective of linking the work with local schools and further education establishments across Scotland, as well as maximising job creation and work experience opportunities.
The council said that the Knockroon Estate offers the best opportunity to maximise educational and physical links to the new Barony Campus, with the NERD centre to offer practical courses for all ages.
It added that other areas of the constituency will also see ‘significant’ NERD activity, specifically within Auchinleck and the surrounding communities over the lifetime of the project. The programme demonstrator projects aims to introduce low carbon solutions with much of the activity taking place in these communities, including developing low carbon hubs at key locations.
Karl Doroszenko, development planning and regeneration manager at East Ayrshire Council, said,“This is exciting news for the communities of Auchinleck and Cumnock. The NERD project will bring many benefits and advantages to these local communities over the lifetime of the project – and beyond – as the low carbon alternatives start to revolutionise modern day living.
“Agreeing the location for the Centre of Excellence is the first major milestone for this project and we look forward to working with Faithful and Gould, the appointed design team, to finalise the designs for the NERD centre of excellence at Knockroon Estate.”