Tag Archives: renewable energy

ARGYLL ARRAY PROJECT UPDATE No 18 October 2011

Scottish Power Renewables logoLocal Consultation Events

There have been a number of consultation and information events in Tiree over the last six months. I also write this regular update in An Tirisdeach. However, a number of people have commented that they would like to find out more about the development directly. I have, therefore, been hosting ‘Township Meetings’ over the last month or so. Two such meetings have been held so far. The meetings are by letter invitation to all residents of a number of neighbouring townships and are planned to be smaller and more relaxed events than island-wide meetings.

There’s no formal programme for the evenings; they’re relaxed opportunities for people to ask questions, discuss issues or hear more about the project, as they wish. I’m the only representative of ScottishPower Renewables at the meetings and members of the Tiree Trust are also invited along. Townships to the south and west of a line from Balevullin to Hynish have been involved in the two meetings held so far. Another three such meetings between now and Christmas will see all townships covered and I hope that as many as possible will be able to attend their particular meeting.

As well as these general meetings I also hope to meet with businesses in important sectors of the Tiree economy before Christmas.

Visit to Offshore Wind Farms

As I said in my last update, one of the issues arising from the visit to wind farms off the town of Barrow in the Irish Sea last month was the visual impact of jacket foundations for offshore wind turbines. Some of the turbines seen during the visit had jacket-type foundations.

The most common type of foundation used in onshore or offshore wind farms is the monopile foundation. As the name suggests, a monopile foundation is a single pile driven deeply and firmly into the ground or sea bed and upon which the turbine tower is fixed. This is what we often see in pictures of offshore wind turbines. Another type of foundation sometimes used in offshore windfarms is a gravity foundation. A gravity foundation is simply a large concrete block, sometimes filled with water, which rests on the sea bed and upon which a turbine tower is fixed. The visual effect of both monopiles and gravity foundations is that the turbine tower appears to rise directly out of the sea. A third type of foundation used for offshore windfarms is a jacket foundation. A jacket foundation looks different to monopile or gravity base foundations. A jacket is essentially a three or four legged structure, whose legs are piled into the sea bed to fix them. The legs are further strengthened by a metal lattice and the structure rises above sea level, with a platform on the top. It is upon this platform that the turbine tower is fixed.

No seabed surveys have yet been carried out on the Argyll Array site nor has any analysis yet been made of the environmental impact of the different forms of foundation. It’s therefore not yet possible to say what foundation type is likely to be used in the Argyll Array. SPR is, however, very aware of possible visual impact concerns about jacket foundations and this will be an important factor to be considered when making a decision about foundation types for the planning application.

Another issue that came out of the visit was the visual impact of the wind farms at night. The lights on the turbines were visible from shore and, while the effect was far from industrial, it was more than some on the visit had anticipated. A possible reason for this is the mandatory guidance on safety lighting and the number of individual wind farms in that part of the Irish Sea. An individual wind farm has navigation lighting on some turbines around its perimeter. When there are several separate wind farms, as is the case in that part of the Irish Sea, each individual wind farm has to be lit round its perimeter. This means that when looking at a number of wind farms off Barrow, there are more lights visible than there would be if these turbines were part of a single wind farm. Another possible reason is that the individual identification lights on the turbines seen during the visit appeared to be visible from 10 kilometres, and were much brighter than would be required in the Argyll Array.

For all individual offshore wind farms, including Argyll Array, one turbine roughly every 4 kilometres round the perimeter has a maritime navigation light. A number also have an aviation navigation light, designed to be seen from the air. Finally, each turbine in the wind farm has an identification light, to illuminate the turbine number on the tower, in the event that a vessel in distress inside the wind farm at night needs to identify its location. The identification lights in the Argyll Array would be no brighter than needed for that purpose i.e. visible from only 50 metres away. SPR therefore anticipates that the night time lighting in the Argyll Array would not have as much visual impact as that seen on the visit but is nevertheless aware of the sensitivity of the issue.

Night time lighting will be assessed in the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment, carried out as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment of the project.

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

Argyll Array Project Update Number 14 – Spetember 2011

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Public Information Day comments


I’ve responded below to more of the points made at the Public Information Day held in late June. I’ll cover the remaining points in the next update.


Socio-Economics


Desire for a guarantee on jobs from the project (THREE COMMENTS)

This is a complex issue. Firstly, the building of the wind farm would not significantly impact on Tiree as far as jobs are concerned. The turbines parts (towers, blades and generators) would be loaded on to very specialized installation vessels, at purpose built port facilities like those in Belfast. These vessels would then sail directly to the site and install the turbines. The wind farm could, however, provide around 100 jobs once it is built and operating and these could potentially be in Tiree.


These jobs would be for the Operations and Maintenance part of the project. Such jobs involve routine servicing of the turbines, repairing turbine breakdowns, monitoring the power output and ensuring that all technicians and materials are able to get to the turbines.


Because the project is in its early planning stages, it has not yet been decided if the Operations and Maintenance base (usually just called the O&M base) from which technicians travel daily to the wind farm would be best based onshore in Tiree or wholly/partly offshore within the wind farm site itself. If it was wholly offshore, with staff on a special platform or on a mother-ship permanently stationed at sea, there would be little impact on jobs for Tiree. If it was onshore, though, the base would require a safe harbour in Gott Bay and the O&M staff and their families would live in Tiree. The only place we foresee such a harbour being is Tiree. The only place in Tiree suitable for the harbour would be Gott Bay.


I know how frustrating it is that a decision has yet to be made about the O&M base, because so much of the benefit people see from the project would come from the base being in Tiree. That’s why planning for O&M is being looked at by the company more closely over the coming months, much earlier than it is for other offshore projects. (The whole matter of what Tiree actually wants from the Operations and Maintenance part of the project is the topic of the Scenario Planning consultation being carried out by consultants right now on behalf of Argyll and Bute Council and others. An open consultation on this topic is planned for early October in Tiree. This will not be an SPR event but I would encourage all to go along to it and get their voices heard. Look out for the notices in the next couple An Tirisdeachs)


Visual impact


Desire for photomontages of night-time views (TWO COMMENTS)


Tiree, like all rural areas, doesn’t experience ‘light pollution’, which is the orange/ yellow glow in the sky caused by city street lighting and other lights. This means that rural skies are much darker than city skies and give much better views of the stars.


There were two requests for photomontages that would show any ‘light pollution’ from the lights on the turbines. It’s useful here to explain what sort of lights would be on the turbines.


By no means all the turbines would have warning lights on them. Only one turbine every 4km on the perimeter of the wind farm would have an aviation light and a maritime navigation light. Tilley, the Tiree Community Turbine, has aviation light on the top and Gott Bay pier has a maritime navigation light on the pier head. Every turbine in the wind farm would also have an identification light, to illuminate the turbine number, in the event that a vessel in distress inside the wind farm at night needs to identify its location. Identification lights are no bigger than needed for that purpose and are only visible close to each turbine.


The Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment carried out for Argyll Array will discuss any night time lighting issues.


Character of island


Desire to leave the island if the project goes ahead


This was said by one person who presumably had the option of leaving Tiree if they chose. They were in the fortunate position of having the resources and freedom from commitments to exercise that choice.


For many families, however, Tiree is their home and the option to leave just does not arise. For them, any opportunity for improvement in their standard of living has to present itself on Tiree and the Argyll Array is possibly such an opportunity.


Equally, some individuals are forced to leave Tiree for work and opportunity and the option to stay does not arise for them. The project also offers them the possibility of being able to return home, or never having to leave in the first place.

Consultation

Desire for more information on the converter station

The converter station is an installation that would convert the generated power from AC to DC for transmission to the national grid at Cruachan. Like the O&M base, this could possibly be located offshore in the wind farm or onshore on Tiree.

A study is presently being carried out by consultants to determine the options for the cable route to take power from the windfarm to the national grid. This study will also review options for the converter station. The most feasible options will be presented at Public Information Days before the end of the year.

An Environmental Impact Assessment will be carried out on the proposed route and converter station location, and details of the assessment will be given in the planning application.

Other

Scepticism about the ability of the project to cope with weather and sea conditions

There is no doubt that the weather and sea conditions in the wind farm site can be extreme. It is also the case that no offshore wind farm has yet been built and operated in these conditions. This, however, is part of the big human and technical challenge the project presents. New technology and ways of working will have to be developed.

Looking back at history, it took Alan Stevenson many years to solve the problems and develope the technology to enable Skerryvore to be built and to stand for the last 150 years and more. The same will need to be done again. We can never defeat the power of the sea but we most certainly can build and work in a way which means we’re not defeated by it.

Wind Farm Visit

The visit to a wind farm in the Irish Sea, which was postponed earlier in the summer has now been provisionally re-arranged for September 26th-28th. This would entail leaving Tiree on Monday 26th by ‘plane, visiting the wind farm near Barrow in Cumbria on the Tuesday, returning to Tiree by ‘plane on Wednesday 28th.

All travel and subsistence will be paid by SPR. Four participants are being selected in association with the Tiree Trust but one more place remains for a general member of the community. I have one nomination from earlier in the summer and this is a final call for further expressions of interest. Please let me know, through the usual means, if you are interested in going on what will be a very informative visit.

Also, please speak to me if you would like more details, before the closing date of Wednesday 7th September.

Exhibition in Rural Centre

The exhibition of materials from the Public Information Day in June which was housed in the Auction Ring for the summer has now closed. I’ll publish an analysis of the attendance and comments in due course. Meanwhile, thank you to all who attended and to the Rural Centre for their hosting of the exhibition.

Future update

  • More responses to comments made at the Public Information Day
  • Information on upcoming Careers Information Day
  • 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

Argyll Array Project Update No.13 August 2011

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As I said in my last update, a total of 24 comment forms were returned from the 121 attendees. The general feeling was that the presentation was informative and very well presented. There was a desire expressed for more detail on what benefits the project would deliver for the island as well as concern from some over the visual impact of the wind farm. There were also requests for more information on a variety of topics, particularly regarding onshore impacts. Individual comment sheets could not be reproduced in the last update but a summary was presented of all the points made, under six headings. Generally, each point was made once by one person but where a point was made by more than one person this was indicated. Below are responses to some of the points made.

The points detailed in the last update can’t be responded to all at once, but I will respond to them all over the next few updates.

Socio-Economics

Desire to see something (e.g. airport upgrade, road resurfacing, economic impact) in return for any negative impacts of the windfarm (SIX COMMENTS)

This was the point most frequently made on the comment sheets. It is also the point most consistently stated by those expressing a view on the proposed development. It’s much more frequently expressed to me than concerns regarding visual impact. As such, the company is addressing the issue as a matter of priority.

Work has already begun to identify the forms such benefit could take. The project is still at an early stage and the right balance has to be struck between being too general and being too specific. We are committed, however, to responsibly discussing potential benefits with the island as soon as they are identified and we would hope to be able to say more about this before the end of the year.

Desire for more detail on fishing impacts

This detail will be provided as a result of the Environmental Impact Assessment which will be carried out over the next 18 months. The potential impact on stocks of fish/shellfish, their spawning, their movements and their habitat, as well as access to the wind farm for fishing boats will all be a major part of the Environmental Statement that will be submitted as part of the planning application to Marine Scotland.

These impacts will also be discussed with affected fishermen prior to the final application being lodged. The way all this will be carried out is detailed in pages 49-56 of the Request for a Scoping Opinion document which was submitted to Marine Scotland last year. A copy is available on the project website at