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Lead delivery organisation: Rural Development Trust
Operational since: October 2020
Project type: Third sector
Charging infrastructure on site: ac slow/fast
Features on site: battery storage, renewable energy, vehicle sharing/pool vehicles

Case study – Rural Development Trust 

Project summary

A garage with on-site solar and wind generation integrated with battery storage and EV charging technology to house and act as an operational base for three electric vehicles. 


Based in Lanark, the Rural Development Trust was established in 2004 and aims to develop and deliver projects tackling rural issues and improve life for residents of rural communities. Its projects have aimed to empower communities, develop local energy solutions and boost community transport within the council areas of North and South Lanarkshire.  From 2012 to 2018, the Trust ran a £5M programme of more than 70 projects as part of the Heritage Lottery funded Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership. Amongst these were projects encouraging forest regeneration, path construction, community growth and active travel.  

In 2018, the Trust started a project developing a garage integrated with low carbon electrification solutions at their offices in Douglas Water, Lanark. The project’s aim was to reduce the carbon emissions of their operations, primarily those associated with vehicle use. This would involve the installation of several low-carbon technologies. 


The Trust intended to build a garage to store fleet vehicles during the winter months. They realised this could be used to integrate on-site generation with the beginning of their fleet decarbonisation journey. Placing charging units in the garage would enable reliable back-to-depot charging. Powering these (and other building loads) with an on-site renewable energy generation and battery energy storage system (BESS) would be a greener and cheaper option than relying solely on grid electricity.  

Project overview

The components of the installation are: 

  • A 22.8 kilowatt-hour (kW) photovoltaic (PV) array on the roof, along with associated inverters. 
  • A 40.5kWh capacity BESS, consisting of three Tesla Powerwalls. 
  • Three AC Zappi EV charge points within the garage: two 22kW and one 7kW. 

To fund this work, the Trust successfully applied for £343,000 from Scottish Power Energy Network’s Green Economy Fund. An initiative set up to support the Scottish Government’s ambitious energy strategy and the UK’s drive to a low-carbon economy. 

The solar installation complements the Trust’s existing 6kW wind turbine in powering its office, garage and the charging needs of its two pool cars. These vehicles are fully electric, a Mercedes EQC and EQV, each with a battery capacity of just over 80kWh. Having staff use these vehicles rather than their private cars, as they deliver primarily active travel related projects, reduces the Trust’s carbon emissions. 


The Trust believes this project’s learnings will influence its future fleet policy by demonstrating a viable solution for decarbonising its vehicles.  They previously had a hope to revive their community transport service which they ran until it closed down in mid-2022. They now hope to revive this service using an electric minibus charged using with the infrastructure installed as part of this project. The project will also provide information on operating electric vehicles in non-urban environments, as previous demonstration projects were mainly fixed route services or urban focussed. 

Progress so far​

The system is in place and operational. They charge one vehicle in the early afternoon and the other in the evening. Each is driven about 120 miles per workday, using about 40kWh. Only the EQC vehicle is used at the weekend, typically travelling only around 60 miles per day, meaning its energy use is considerably lower. From mid-April to the end of September, the Trust’s EVs are charged solely by energy from their renewable generators and BESS, with the bulk of this coming from solar PV. Annual outputs from the wind turbine and solar are 7.5MWh and 19MWh respectively. 

Challenges faced​

Completion of the installation took longer than anticipated. The Trust experienced a 12-month delay in getting a connection and waited 18 months to receive a 3-phase meter. Once installed, they discovered the device’s smart functionality was not working correctly. The device could record basic import and export data, but it was unable to provide a time-of-use tariff. However, the Trust received favourable fixed import and export rates as compensation.    

Additionally, they waited three months to get an export meter point administration number (MPAN) from the DNO. An export MPAN identifies the specific electricity export point for a premises. Without this, they could not export any of the electricity they generated. 

Alongside the delivery of this project, the Trust planned to purchase a 16-seater electric minibus. However, funding for their community transport operation (MyBus) was cut, so this element had to be dropped.  

Key lessons learned​

The annual output from the wind turbine purchased over ten years ago, is around 7.5MWh. Although this has met expectations for its size, the annual maintenance cost of this asset has been higher than anticipated. The Trust, therefore, decided not to install another turbine. However, introducing battery storage has improved their ability to use the energy their turbine generates.  

The PV has been very effective, with an output of 19MWh in the last 12 months. As a result, the Rural Development Trust hopes to double the battery storage capacity to 81kWh to further increase their ability to use their generated electricity. 

Further information ​

If you would like to know more about this project. You can find more information about Rural Development Trust via their website , more information can be found here: 

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