Tag Archives: Tiree renewable energy

What will Argyll Array do to Tiree

wind array

Over 150 people attended a public meeting on 15th June to discuss the likely impacts of the proposed offshore wind farm at Skerryvore. Tish MacKinnon, chair of the Tiree Community Development Trust, led the meeting and Lloyd Gudgeon, the Trust’s Manager, made a short presentation. Ralph Thornton and Morna Cannon from the developers Scottish Power Renewables were on hand to answer questions, as were Councillors Len Scoular and Donald McIntosh, along with several senior officials from the Planning Department, HIE, the Health Board and the Police.

The wind farm will be huge, costing £6 billion to build (at todays prices) and estimated to provide about 20% of Scotland’s electricity needs. The impact it will have on Tiree will also be huge, with an influx of people coming to work for the wind farm, new housing, much wider roads and bigger harbour and more jobs. It will also bring helicopters, noise and disruption to what has been up to now a peaceful place.

The meeting heard how plans to site between 300 and 500 giant wind turbines (some up to three times the height of Skerryvore) between the land and the lighthouse would require major structural alterations to the Island including a building the size of a football pitch to house the equipment to convert the electricity when it comes ashore and up to 4,000 square meters of office buildings. In answer to a question from a resident, Ralph Thornton admitted that there was no way the islanders could stop the wind farm from going ahead if consent is given by the Scottish Energy Minister.

Opinions of locals is divided, some feel that the development will bring only good to the island – upgrading to health, housing, education and policing and the potential creation of jobs and leisure amenities along with a possible community financial bonus being amongst the improvements on offer. Others feel that the necessary changes to the Island “will destroy our whole way of life, this will be the end of Tiree as we know it” and that “our gaelic culture will suffer and we will lose our peaceful existence. No doubt this scheme will be railroaded through in the guise of national necessity, no doubt some people will get very rich out of this construction at the expense of others”.
Andrew Montgomery, factor to the Duke of Argyll, told the meeting;
“ No one could, in their wildest dreams imagine the impact this development will make on Tiree. Argyll Estates has a duty of care for the people of Tiree and the island and having attended this meeting we now have serious concerns about the plans which will affect the way of life here”
One resident pointed out that “whether we want it or not if the wind farm goes ahead we must get a decent rate of return on our investment. Our whole way of life will change, and it must not be allowed to change for the worse .”

It was also revealed that two other off shore energy installations are being proposed for the seas around Tiree – one a wave power installation, the other a further wind turbine site. This could mean the contract workers and maintenance crews for all three sites could be based here, turning Tiree into a huge terminal for renewable energy possibly changing the very essence of Tiree beyond all recognition and repair.

The meeting finished with a renewed mandate being given to the Trust to continue working on behalf of the community to ensure we do not suffer unduly from this development, should it go ahead.

Background documents and links to relevant sites can be found on the Trusts website; www.tireetrust.org.uk

Powerdown Progress

power socket

Last year the Powerdown project was asked to look into feasibility of various projects. Three applications were made to the Climate Challenge Fund following extensive research into options and costs. The fund is now closed.

We have been successful in getting funding to employ a second part-time person to work on the Powerdown project to make better progress in this area. Energy use in buildings accounts for 40% of all carbon emissions and can make a big difference to household bills. Any investment in this area can result in savings year after year as well as warmer homes.

The bid for an electric car for community use was unsuccessful. And the Northern Periphery European funding for a tourism hire car project had to be abandoned due to a 6 month wait for the funding to be re-paid after expenditure.
HIE however are still open to hearing from us about the money that they set aside for an electric car hire project for Tiree, to match the European funds. Electric cars would be great for Tiree as their running costs are much cheaper. New electric cars can plug into a home plug with a range of 80 miles and top speeds over 60 mph. From January 2011 a contribution of 25% of the cost of electric vehicles up to £5,000 will be available. This will work in similar way to the car scrappage scheme with discount applied at the point of purchase.

The bid for a composting toilet trial was unsuccessful. The concept is sound but didn’t stack up in terms of carbon savings which were based on less embodied energy than traditional facilities and less travel to existing facilities. Fingers and legs crossed for another solution.

Various community groups have been preparing for funding applications to install small turbines to match their building’s energy use working with Community Energy Scotland. THANKS Thanks to the Powerdown Steering Group Alastair MacInnes, Clare Jones and Ann Kirby and to all the people who have fitted low energy light bulbs, turned down the thermostat, filled in a home energy check form, measured their mileage or borrowed a smart meter. We look forward to more progress over the next year of the project.

Frances Woodhead, Community Powerdown Officer.

Tilley officially declared open


After five long, turbulent and emotional years Saturday saw the official “opening” of Tilley, Tiree’s Community Turbine.

The project has suffered many delays and setbacks, weather has intervened, ferries been cancelled, equipment developed faults and a mass of paperwork and forms had to be completed and submitted to various agencies. The fact that Tilley has been built at all is a testament to the hard work and perseverance of many people, particularly the TREL directors and their supporters.

Costing approximately £2.1million and at a height of 75m to the tip of her blades, Tilley is an Enercon E-44 model, specially designed to be located in areas of high winds and she should have a life span of 20 years – all the while generating an income for the Tiree Community.

In the first hour of operation Tilley produced and exported to the grid 0.283mwh of energy. Putting that into terms that we can relate to it means we could boil 1886 kettles making 11,316 cups of tea!


As the coach carrying the members of TREL, the Trust, and representatives from The Co-operative bank, Enercon, CalMac, TC Young Solicitors, Community Energy Scotland and our meteorology adviser arrived, it was greeted by three young ladies (Mhairi MacKinnon, Fiona MacKinnon and Eilidh MacFadyen) playing the pipes, and an impressive crowd of locals who had turned out on a grey afternoon to witness this historical event.

Bruce Kemp, Chair or TREL made a brief speech and Rev. Peter Williams gave a Blessing of thanks for the harnessing of God given Natural resources and asking that the community spirit would enable us all to be good stewards of the rewards of the turbine and that these would be spent in a way honourable to God and for the good of the community.


In true spirit of the occasion tradition was cast aside as Tish MacKinnon, Chair of the Trust, cut a green ribbon and to the applause of the assembled crowd Tilley was officially declared open.

An invitation was extended to those who wished to meet at An Talla where Champagne was served along with tea, coffee and a truly wonderful selection of cakes.

Following a quick tidy up of the hall the celebrations continued in the evening with a well attended Family Dance, the music was provided by some of the many talented Tiree musicians and a raffle was held with a generous amount of prizes donated by individuals and local businesses.

Now we should start thinking about the future, as Tish said before cutting the ribbon “each time the blades turn Tilley is generating an income for the Island”. Maybe not in the early years but as time goes on and the outstanding loans reduce there will be money available for spending on projects to benefit the community.

How the money from the Tiree Windfall Fund should be used will be decided by the Trust and they would like to know your views on this and they will be holding a further meeting to explain more about how the Fund might be operated, to which everyone is invited.

More detailed information about Tilley is available free from the Trust.

A word from Bruce

I would like to say a very big thank you to Liz Lapsley, Lloyd Gudgeon, all of the Trust directors who helped to organise the official opening of Tilley the turbine on Saturday and to everybody who turned out to support it, including representatives from Enercon, the Co-op Bank, CES, Argyll Estates, SNH and TC Young who all helped us along the way and came to join in the celebrations.

It was an excellent day and a fun evening of music and dance highlighting the ever-present young musical talent on Tiree.

There are many ways to look at this turbine project. You can see it as a community effort to reduce our carbon imprint, and it will certainly do that. Over an average year the turbine will generate 3100MWh of electricity, enough to power over 620 homes. The equivalent power sourced from the grid would produce 1600 tonnes of CO2.

In money-making terms it will provide significant revenue to the Tiree Community Development Trust totalling several million pounds over its lifetime.

But to me it is about empowerment. It is about empowering a community to take charge of its destiny, to decide what it is we want to achieve and to give us the means to achieve it. Now that the turbine is exporting power it is harnessing a resource that Tiree has plenty of and every turn of the blades generates not just electrical power but also the ability to turn dreams into reality. Power to the people!

I would like to thank everybody who has supported this project in any way, with voluntary effort and time, financially, professionally and commercially. The project has taken many thousands of hours of freely given voluntary work on the part of the TREL board and I would particularly like to thank them, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with them.

Thanks too, to you, the people of Tiree for supporting us through the process and for your patience and forbearance during and after the construction.

Bruce Kemp

Comment on behalf of Argyll Estates

I was very encouraged to see so many faces, both young and old, at the opening of the new Tiree Community Wind Turbine, which in more ways than one is a landmark achievement leaving no one in any doubt that Tiree leads by example.

When the Estate agreed to give up the land for the project, my main concern was the local reaction to what many may have perceived to be a “blot on the landscape”. In fact this was not the case and indeed on my ferry journey into Tiree I realised how wrong perception can be as Tilley has proved to be a most unobtrusive and graceful design.

The turbine in the main seems to have been embraced by the Islanders, and rightly so, given the enormous financial benefits such a development will generate. Yes it has been a long hard road for those involved, however I think all of us with an interest in the Island should see Tilley the Turbine as a monument to a job well done; a flag flying for an island whose community has taken up the baton and run with it, showing a progressive and forward thinking approach to sustainable community development.

Well done to you all for giving such support and well done to those involved in TREL for making it all happen.

Andrew Montgomery
Factor , Argyll Estates

And a Thank You from TCDT

Tiree Community Development Trust would like to thank everyone who turned out on Saturday to celebrate the opening of Tilley the Tiree Turbine.

In particular, thanks go to Agrimarine, Cal Mac, Rockvale, Chocolate & Charms, Enercon, Co-operative Bank and Martrain for their very generous contributions, and to Atlantic Edge Hotels for the many bottles of bubbly.

The band were great and the pipers were excellent. Thanks also to all the volunteers who baked, brewed and served up the lunches, teas and cakes, and who then tidied up afterwards and donated raffle prizes. We’d also like to thank the supporters who could not make it on Saturday, particularly Mary Jean Devon and the other local councillors, and of course the Big Lottery. Lastly, the biggest thanks of all to you, the community, for being patient in your support for this brilliant project.

Tilley the turbine update

wind turbine

The Enercon engineers have completed their initial tests and will return in the next couple of weeks to carry out the 300 hour tests. Once these and further tests are completed, the turbine will be formally handed over to TREL.

We can expect to see the turbine not turning at various times during the next few weeks as it is put through tests and various connection and voltage issues are resolved.
Although it is obviously disappointing not to be running full time, particularly when it is windy, down time should be expected. The E-44 turbines on Benbecula and Westray went through similar “running in” issues in the initial months before their machines were formally handed over by Enercon.

We look forward to seeing everyone at the turbine for the official launch on 24 April at 2pm and afterwards for tea and refreshments at An Talla where there will be photos and video presentations of the build stages.

A free Family Dance is being held in the evening at 7.30pm BYOB – all welcome.

Tilley the Tiree turbine turning

wind turbine

Tiree Renewable Energy Company Limited (TREL) is pleased to announce that after being put through a number of energising and commissioning tests Tilley the Tiree Turbine was generating by late afternoon on Saturday 27th March.

The project to build a Turbine for the community of Tiree started over 4 years ago. The voluntary directors of TREL have worked tirelessly, and overcome many hurdles during this time to reach this day.

The turbine is now operational and will start to generate an income stream which will benefit the community of Tiree for the next 25 years. This income will be gift aided by TREL to Tiree Community Development Trust and used to support a variety of future community projects. Details regarding The Tiree Windfall fund will be distributed to the community soon.

Please note there will be an official opening ceremony on Saturday 24th April at 2.oopm, followed by a family dance in the evening, which will be open to all in the community. (More details will follow later, watch out for notices)

Congratulations to all who have helped in any way to make this project a success.

Liz Lapsley for TREL

New Landmark Takes Shape On Tiree


A new landmark is taking shape on the island. The £2 million pound community project to build a large wind turbine has entered the final stages with arrival on island of 7 lorry loads of parts and two gigantic cranes, transported by Mar-Train heavy haulage based in Ireland and Scotland. A specially chartered sailing of Caledonian MacBrayne’s ferry, the MV Clansman, arrived at Scarinish pier at 10.45pm on Saturday 7th November and it took over 2 hours to unload all the lorries/ cranes and components.

By Thursday 12th the first two sections of the turbine, each measuring over 15 meters, had been erected by the team from Enercon/ Whytes Cranes with assistance from Mar Train employees. Ironically, strong winds then intervened and put a temporary halt to the construction work. This is not surprising, according to Tiree Community Development Trust chairperson, Tish MacKinnon: “Tiree is the windiest place in the UK, so we should expect some delays. It’s just a pity that it has to come now, when we want calm days to get the construction done. Last month when we had the Wave Classic windsurfing event it hardly blew at all!”

Tiree Trust set up a community enterprise, Tiree Renewable Energy Company Ltd (TREL) to work on the turbine project. Chairman of the TREL board, Bruce Kemp, is also not surprised by delays: “The project has taken over 4 years to get to this stage, during which we have faced every kind of obstacle, frustration, set back and disappointment. The reason it is still going ahead is that we have a team of incredibly hard-working volunteers on the board of TREL. Remarkably, the project is still almost on schedule. Construction should be completed by the end of November.

The next steps are the commissioning and connection to the grid which should take place in December and the community should finally start to earn money from the sale of electricity. The turbine is expected to operate for 25 years, during which time it should earn in the region of £3.5 million.

Liz Lapsley, the local project officer working for the Tiree Trust, sees this to be the whole point of the project; “Once we have paid off the bank loan we could be earning over £200,000 a year for the community. We will have a community chest in the form of a local grant scheme that can be used to invest in any social, cultural or economic good cause that the community wants to support.” Tish MacKinnon also said “We are so close to getting our turbine up and running. Some of the volunteers have been putting in 20 or 25 hours a week, week after week for 4 years. There is just the voltage control equipment to be commissioned and we are there. If we hit another delay we will miss the good winter wind, our bank loan will increase and we will have less money for the community. We just need everyone to do their part, and Tiree can start to harvest the wind and look to the future.

For more information and photos of this project check out the Tiree Renewable Energy Website

1 2