Tag Archives: windfarm

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 17 October 2011

Scottish Power Renewables logoOffshore wind careers evening

There was a good turnout at the careers evening organised by SPR at the end of last month. There were brief talks from two SPR Operations and Maintenance managers and also from a work boat operator, who had travelled from the Netherlands especially for the event.

The Careers Service gave their professional perspective on future careers in the offshore wind industry. Most of the evening, however, was given over to a number of interesting discussions about the practicalities of working on an offshore wind farm. The main points coming out of the evening were

  •  Offshore wind farm Operations and Maintenance provides career opportunities in all areas; professional, technical, craft, administrative and manual, with all of these equally appropriate for men and women.
  • The current entry method is mainly through having existing skills in any of those areas. · The next few years will see specific training for offshore Operations and Maintenance being developed.
  • The industry provides new opportunities for good quality, secure jobs. This is the case nationally but would have particular impact on Tiree were any part of the Argyll Array Operations and Maintenance to be sited here.
  •  Electrical, Mechanical, Electronic engineering, aeronautical and even car mechanic type backgrounds, to vocational standards (HNC, HND etc) and higher, provide an excellent grounding for work as turbine technicians.
  • Offshore oil and gas skills are also transferable to offshore wind.
  •  Going along to the Scenario Mapping events taking place between now and Christmas in Tiree gives an excellent opportunity to understand and influence how Operations and Maintenance for the Argyll Array could develop.

A number of those who were able to come along found the format and contributors relaxed and informative. The company would like to thank those who travelled to Tiree and also all those who attended for making the evening such a success.

Tiree visit to Offshore Windfarms

Ralph and Morna from the SPR Project Team took four visitors from Tiree to view offshore windfarms from Barrow-in-Furness in north west England on the 26th and 27th September.

The visitors from Tiree were Robert Trythall, Clare Jones, Sophie Isaacson and Ian MacInnes. The aim of the visit was to demonstrate what an offshore windfarm looks like from the coast, to give an idea of the jobs and infrastructure involved in construction/operations of an offshore windfarm, and to demonstrate SPR’s approach to development of windfarms.

On Monday the group visited SPR’s Whitelee windfarm and Visitors’ Centre on Eaglesham moor outside Glasgow, then drove to Barrow-In-Furness, in Cumbria. At Barrow, the group drove along Walney Island, and viewed the Barrow, Ormonde and Walney offshore windfarms from the coast including viewing the turbines at night.

The next day the group visited the Walney Offshore Wind farm’s construction base, and spent the day talking to staff from DONG Energy, who run the site. The group spoke to staff involved in project management, port operations, marine logistics, workboat crew, administration and health and safety. The group members have all given their personal impressions of the visit in the accounts published elsewhere in this week’s paper. I think it’s fair to say that the three main issues which come out of these accounts are

  1.   The potential for economic and social development from an offshore wind farm.
  2. The visual impact of jacket foundations.
  3. The visual impact of the wind farm at night.

These last two points are things the company is taking very seriously and I will have more to say about them next week.

Future updates

  •  Details of local consultation meetings
  • More on the wind farm visit

 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 #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

Argyll Array Project Update 15 September 2011

Scottish Power Renewables logo

Below are responses to the last of the points made at the Public Information Day held in late June. Only one or two of the comments made have not now been responded to.I will look at these in the next update.

  • Concern about effects on tourism and lack of formal contact with representatives of tourism – Any effects on tourism will be looked at closely in the socio-economic section of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the project. If there are any potential negative effects, there may equally be positive effects. For example, any harbour improvements resulting from the project may encourage yachting tourism, a very valuable business which Tiree presently can’t access .It’s also possible to discuss tourism issues specifically with those concerned and I will be taking that forward directly in the next few weeks.
  • Concern that the wind farm be further out to sea, and desire that there should be fewer, but larger, turbines arranged not to present a ‘wall’ to the island – While there were few comments like this in June, there were considerably more over the summer, mostly from visitors to the island who had gone to the exhibition in the Rural Centre. The company is very aware of the issue and this will be taken account of in the Landscape and Visual Assessment which will be another part of the EIA. As I said in June, the photomontages were indications of what might be, not predictions of what will be. The sea bed conditions and a number of other constraints will determine the final placing of the turbines in the site.
  • A desire for more detail about onshore development, operations and maintenance possibilities and helicopter noise. – The Tiree Onshore Scenario Mapping consultation being carried out now will go into some detail regarding the whole issue of what may be developed onshore for operations and maintenance. It has not been possible up to now to identify in more detail the basic options presented in June. But since then a considerable amount of work has been done on this and the information will be passed to the consultants carrying out the consultation on behalf of Argyll and Bute Council. The possible options for an Operations and Maintenance presence on Tiree will therefore be presented more fully at the next consultation event during the first week of October. While this will not be an SPR event, there will be SPR representatives attending to answer any questions. This will be a very important event for giving more information about this major aspect of the project and I would encourage as many as possible to come along. Keep a look out for the advertisement in An Tirisdeach.

Careers Information Evening

The offshore wind industry in Scotland will be a rapidly growing part of the economy over the next twenty years. There is also the possibility that the Argyll Array development may increase the numbers of good quality, secure jobs available in Tiree.

The company has been in discussions with the Tiree Trust for some time now about how Tiree could become better informed of potential opportunities in this area. We’re delighted, then, that we’ll be able to hold an Offshore Wind Careers evening in Tiree at the end of this month. It will be held at An Talla at 7.00pm on Thursday 29th September.

Who is this event for?

It’s for anyone interested in careers in offshore wind. However, it will be of particular interest to people of working age who are interested in finding out how they could prepare themselves over the next five years or so for employment in the industry. We hope young people who have not yet decided on a career path and school pupils of about 14 and older and their parents will also find it very useful.

What will be discussed?

The evening will give a flavour of what jobs are actually done on an offshore wind farm;
how people repair and service turbines offshore, how people onshore monitor the turbines and co-ordinate the work on them and how the technicians and materials are transported to the turbines. We hope to give concrete examples of how people have joined the industry and how people can plan for education and training to enable them to do so too.

Who will be leading the evening?

There will be three people currently working in the industry there to talk about their experiences of their work and how their careers have developed. There will be careers specialists able to talk about current and future training /education routes and what people interested in joining the industry should do now to prepare themselves. There will also be SPR representatives there, able to discuss matters specific to the company.

What will be the format of the evening?

There will be a brief introduction covering the industry in general and how people from Tiree could become involved in it. The three industry workers will then each give a brief outline of their work and how they got there. A brief presentation on careers pathways and education/training will follow. The main part of the evening will be a chance for people to speak directly with the workers and careers specialist in organised small groups, over a cup of tea, to allow the kind of questions and discussion which are sometimes difficult in large meetings.

I hope this evening will be informative but relaxed and I look forward to it being a successful first step in this important area.

Future updates

· Final responses to comments made at the Public 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 Number 14 – Spetember 2011

Scottish Power Renewables logo

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

Scottish Power Renewables logo

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