POWERING EDUCATION FROM LOCAL WIND ENERGY
By the end of this year, £250,000 will have been granted through the SSE Airtricity Scholarship fund to students from the West and North-West of Northern Ireland progressing in third level education. This money, directly supported by the Regional Fund from SSE’s nearby Slieve Kirk Wind Park, Northern Ireland’s largest wind farm, is helping almost 100 people from the counties in which the wind farm is located gain degrees from one of our two partner institutions: Ulster University and South West College.
So why has an energy company invested a quarter of a million pounds so far in further education? And why do people in rural communities receive priority for these funds?
As the largest provider of wind power here, our wind farms which are developed and operate in rural Northern Ireland produce the green electricity needed to power a diverse, modern society. Like any business, we aim to be efficient and profitable. But we understand that being successful in the long-term means behaving responsibly and contributing to a strong economy as well as to the communities where we live and work.
Through our wind farm community funds, SSE Airtricity has now granted around £1.5m to communities in some of the remotest parts of Northern Ireland. We typically work with local groups around our wind farms to fund projects like insulating community halls or providing sports equipment for local schools. However, for our biggest fund – Slieve Kirk Wind Park which spans Co. Tyrone and Co. Derry-Londonderry – we saw an opportunity to invest in a way that would continue to benefit local people for many years to come.
Reducing barriers and providing access to education means we’re investing in a sustainable future. We understand the huge importance of education in the lives of young people and their families, and we also recognise the substantial financial commitment involved. Our scholarships provide students from both counties, prioritising those nearest Slieve Kirk, with 50 per cent of their fees so they can gain the qualifications required to get good jobs and build strong careers. This means increased skills, wages and tax revenues – benefitting not just their home communities, but Northern Ireland as a whole. These flow-on effects of further education ensure a lasting impact from our funds for those we directly support and their communities, now and throughout the lifetime of the wind farm.