Argyll Array Project Update #16 September 2011

Scottish Power Renewables logoScenario Mapping

The Project Team has been working recently to create detailed ‘scenarios ‘of how Operations and Maintenance of the Argyll Array could potentially work if the base was sited wholly or partly in Tiree.Operations and Maintenance (or O&M) is the work which needs to be done once a wind farm is built and it begins to generate electricity.

Over the 25 year lifespan of a wind farm, turbines have to be serviced and repaired and technicians and spares have to be quickly and efficiently transported to the wind farm. We have outlined a number of options, or ‘scenarios’, for that and these will enable people to better understand what the onshore impacts of the project could be in Tiree.

It’s important to emphasise that these scenarios are concerned with what may happen onshore in Tiree and are not focused on questions about the actual wind turbines themselves. It’s also important to say that the scenarios are not definite plans-they are possibilities or options for how O&M could be done. We have provided these scenarios to the consultants who are carrying out the Scenario Mapping process on behalf of a group led by Argyll and Bute Council. These will form part of the consultation event to be held soon in Tiree.

Like the previous event last month, this is not an SPR event. However, this is a really good opportunity to get more information about the possible impacts- if O&M was cited in Tiree- of such things as new jobs, increased transport activity, new infrastructure and increased economic activity generally. This will enable the community to be better informed about these possible options and allow a clearer picture to emerge of Tiree’s views about them when the consultation is complete by the end of the year.

Benefits from the wind farm

Some of the O&M scenarios that will be presented in the Scenario Mapping process have the potential to be of great benefit to Tiree both economically and socially.

They could bring good quality jobs and improved infrastructure to the island. However, it has been clear to the company for some time that there is an expectation that other direct positive impacts could also come from the Argyll Array. This has been evident from conversations round the island, from views put to us by the Tiree Trust and from the comments at the Public Information Day in June. Keen readers of these Updates will remember that I said in August that the company was working on what form that positive impact could take. So this is something else the Project Team has been working on recently and we’re committed to saying more about this once the Scenario Mapping process is complete.

Public Information Days on Grid Route Selection

A major part of the project will be the system needed to transmit the electricity generated by the wind farm to the National Grid.

The electricity has to be transmitted by an export cable to a site at Cruachan, near Dalmally, on the Argyll mainland. This will require the grid route to go from the wind farm, both on the sea bed and on land, to get there.

Much work has been done over the summer on looking at potential grid routes. The options have now been reduced to a number of potential routes, which will be the subject of Public Information Days next month. These Information Days will be similar to that held in Tiree in June. The public will be able to see a number of possible grid routes and to make comments on them.

Public bodies such as the Scottish Government, the Council and SNH will be asked for comments. Representative groups such as users of the sea and land along the routes will also be invited to comment. Once the Information Days have been held, the company will take account of all the comments and of the technical data before selecting one or two routes to look at more closely. This closer look will involve a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the route(s), essentially the same as will be done for the wind farm itself.

The Public Information Days will be held in Mull, Oban and Dalmally in the middle of next month. There will be no Public Information Day in Tiree at this time. This is because the situation as regards the grid route is different for Tiree.

The first difference is that none of the potential grid transmission routes to Dalmally crosses Tiree and Coll. All of the potential routes go from the wind farm undersea, directly to other parts of Argyll and Bute. There will therefore be no cable transmission route to Dalmally across Tiree and Coll.

The second difference is to do with the transmission of the electricity. The electricity from the wind farm has to be converted from AC to DC before transmission, to reduce energy losses on the long journey to Dalmally. Another converter station at Dalmally will then convert it back to AC. A decision has not yet been made about where the wind farm converter station could be and this could affect Tiree.
The converter station could be within the wind farm itself, on a large platform out at sea. The electricity from the turbines would go to the platform to be converted and then head undersea, for transmission to other parts of Argyll.

Another option is that the electricity from the turbines would go to a converter station in Tiree to be converted before it was transmitted, initially undersea, to Dalmally.

If a converter station were to be proposed in Tiree, SPR would take into consideration the need to minimize the lengths of cables into and out of it. So, because the transmission grid route will not cross Tiree and Coll there will be no Grid Route Public Information Day next month in Tiree. However, when a potential site for the converter station has been identified, either offshore or onshore, a decision will then be made about a Public Information Day in Tiree.

Future updates

  • A report on the visit to an offshore wind farm in England
  • A report on the Offshore Wind Careers Evening.

Questions or comments

If anyone has any questions or comments on any of the above, or indeed any aspect of the project, please contact me at – Donnie Campbell, ScottishPower Renewables Community Liaison Officer, Machair, Kilmoluaig in the first instance. My land line telephone number is 220 352, mobile number 07881 983 753 and email donnie@argyllarray.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *