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 FarrPoint reports on community broadband options for renewable energy leader Statkraft

CASE STUDY

FarrPoint reports on community broadband options for renewable energy leader Statkraft

FarrPoint partnered with Statkraft Group, Europe's largest generator of renewable energy, to explore broadband connectivity for community benefits. With improved connectivity a high priority, Statkraft is keen to explore how communities can gain improvements from community renewable energy funds.

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Senior Consultant: James Carsley

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Client: Skatkraft

Background

FarrPoint was appointed by (this will open in a new window)Statkraft, Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy, to provide a clear picture of current broadband connectivity and planned improvements, along with options available to drive further improvements in communities, in various locations in the UK where they are investing in new wind farms. The most recent study has focused on Loch Liath, an area just North of Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland.

The Challenge

As wind farms are deployed, neighbouring communities are provided with an ongoing community benefit fund, which can be used to support various community activities. Broadband is often a high priority for communities as provision in rural communities tends to be lacking, with slow speeds and poor coverage. Understanding what improvements could be made that aren’t already planned, at what cost, and how these could be delivered, provides communities with the insight on which to make decisions on allocation of funds.

What did FarrPoint deliver?

FarrPoint worked as Statkraft’s digital partner to undertake a comprehensive Digital Connectivity study assessing current coverage and planned improvements from national programmes in the communities surrounding a wind farm. This covered both broadband and mobile connectivity. The options for improving connectivity, either using community benefit funds or engaging with national broadband programmes, were identified and presented to the community for consideration and action.

The ability to quantify the coverage and speed of connections available to premises locally is vital as it allows Statkraft and the community to see where and when improvements are scheduled. Crucially, it identifies those premises and areas most in need and the target for the action plan.

An example of the detailed analysis provided is shown below.

Statkraft digital connectivity analysis map

Such community reports simplify the complex world of broadband and mobile technologies and their speed to present an easy-to-understand overview of the issues and the potential solutions.

(this will open in a new window)Dr Andrew Muir, CEO at FarrPoint, said:

“This is a great opportunity to provide a clear snapshot of the opportunities for residents and businesses in more rural communities affected by poor connectivity. In some cases, established public intervention programmes such as the Scottish Government’s R100 programme will bring improvements, but this will not be everywhere. We factor in these programmes and other related developments to deliver an overall plan to address all premises in the area.”

(this will open in a new window)Willie Cameron, a leading tourism expert and Business Development Director with Cobbs Group, one of the largest employers in the Loch Liath area, has welcomed the commission by Statkraft. He said:

“Superfast broadband is a vital utility and is important to businesses and residents in the area, but also to the many visitors we get here. This is an excellent commitment from Statkraft as it will provide the community with the latest information, particular to our own community needs. The report will be a marker for superfast broadband decisions over the next few years and an exemplar for valuable community engagement.”

As part of the project FarrPoint's Senior Consultant, (this will open in a new window)James Carsley, engaged with the local community by attending a community meeting, where he presented the report and provided valuable information regarding the options available to the community. This included focusing on exploring mobile broadband where the fixed connections are poor, an overview of the timing of future upgrades, and the relative merits of the options faced by the community should they choose a community project to improve their connectivity, as well as addressing any questions they had.

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