Scottish and Welsh wind power receive boost

Scottish and Southern Energy is planning a major £60 million, 100 megawatt wind farm for South Ayrshire as part of its £450 million plans for renewable energy in Scotland, and Wales has opened its first new wind farm in two years.

Recently, UK company Amec was also reported to be planning a £500 million wind on the Hebridean island of Lewis, which, if developed, would be the largest windfarm in the world (see related story).

The proposed Scottish and Southern Energy site, east of Girvan, will contain between 50 and 70 turbines, which will be largely obscured from the main areas of population by the surrounding hills, but is well placed for the prevailing winds from the South West. The wind farm will have the potential to power 60,000 homes and is still in the very early planning stages, a group spokesperson told edie.

Meanwhile, in Wales, Energy Minister Brian Wilson opened a £3.5 million wind farm in Parc Cynog, consisting of five 720kW turbines, and gave consent for a second, £35 million, wind farm development to be built in Cefn Croes. Together, the combined power from the two developments will be sufficient to supply over 40,000 homes.

“The launch of these wind farms should mark the start of a new period of expansion for wind energy in this country,” said Wilson. “Wales is blessed with some of the finest energy rich natural sources in the world.”

With regard to the new Scottish site, the nearest residential areas to the population centres to the proposed development are the villages of Barr and Dailly. The company and its associate, DP Energy Windpower, will be holding public meetings in the villages early in the new year to outline the proposals, although Scottish and Southern says it is too early to anticipate whether there will be objections.

“The Government has set stiff targets to increase renewable energy and reduce environmental emissions by 2010,” said David Sigsworth, generation director of Scottish and Southern Energy. “In Scotland, where we have Europe’s best renewable energy resources, a target of 18% as the percentage for generation from renewable sources has been set by the Scottish Executive. Much of this will be provided by wind generation, which is currently the most economic and effective technology to meet this.”

“Scottish and Southern Energy has been searching for suitable sites throughout the UK where we can invest in new renewable projects for which we have committed some £200 million,” continued Sigsworth. “The site we have identified near Barr and Dailly in Ayrshire offers a good opportunity to harness the wind resource from the south west to generate a good supply of electricity which could light and heat around 60,000 homes.”

Consultations have already begun with the statutory authorities and local representatives, he explained, and public meetings and displays will also be held as part of a continuing process during the development of the site. The development is expected to be completed by late 2003.

The identified site lies on either side of the B734 between Old Dailly and Barr. The site will be tested by the installation of wind monitoring equipment to establish wind speeds and the optimum number and positioning of wind turbines.

The project is part of Scottish and Southern’s plans to invest £450 million in renewable energy. The group is currently spending £250million on refurbishing its existing hydro plants, which are managed by Scottish and Southern group member Scottish Hydro.

The company is also spending a further £200 million to develop over 200MW of new renewables. The refurbishment of six Highland hydro power stations is set to commence next year, and tenders for the Company’s first wind farm at Tangy near Campbeltown were announced at the company’s interim results presentation.

Announcing the investment programme during the interims announcement in November, chief executive Jim Forbes said: “The Government has set a target of 10% of all UK generation to come from renewables by 2010. This means that electricity supply businesses need to acquire sufficient renewable obligation certificates or ROCs. In order to encourage investment the Government has set a default price of 3 pence per kilowatt hour on these ROCs.”

The Government has agreed that all hydro stations up to 20MW will be eligible for ROCs once they have been refurbished. The company has therefore committed to a ten-year programme to refurbish all its hydropower assets beginning with Invergarry, Aigas, Orrin, Gaur, Torrachilty and Ceannacroc power stations in the Highlands of Scotland, totalling just over 100MW.

“For the new renewables investment the Company is looking to exploit the geographic advantages of Scotland over the next five or six years with a number of sites for wind generation and for sites for new hydro generation,” added Forbes.

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