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The project, which will not be officially announced for several weeks would be developed by a consortium with British Energy - best known as a nuclear power group, and US multinational engineering group AMEC as the leading partners. Both companies have recent experience of small-scale wind power development: AMEC’s Border Wind company develops, constructs and operates wind farms from within AMEC plc in the UK and around the world, while British Energy is a partner in Huron Wind in Ontario.
A key element in the scheme would be a £300 million undersea cable, possibly to Merseyside or North Wales, by-passing the fragile national grid cable of Scotland and northern England. Earlier this month Energy Minister Brian Wilson announced a feasiblity study into a 400-mile (640 km) undersea power cable from the Hebrides down the western coastline of Britain to link offshore wind farms and other renewable energy projects to the national electricity transmission network (see related story).
With this infrastructure in place, the western isles could provide more wind and wave-power for the rest of the country. The second stage of the £500m Lewis project, would be an offshore wind farm, together with wave and tidal power projects. The international consortium planning the development says there is a potential to generate more than 2,000 megawatts of electricity – as much as three nuclear stations – from Lewis alone.
These developments could transform the economy of the Western Isles, bringing much-needed employment and investment to the remote area.
A spokesman at the British Energy Press Office confirmed to edie that the company are examining the options and opportunities. “It’s too early to say much,” the spokesman said. “This is the start of a very long process that could take years. There are a whole range of issues involved: it’s not just building the windmills, it’s getting the power ashore.”