Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wind Power

I think this is a great idea and they're doing two off Scotland. I'd love to put one up in my back yard. We get enough wind to supply our whole village.

Go-ahead for offshore wind farms

GalleryPublished Date: 05 June 2008
By Jenny Haworth
A MAJOR expansion in offshore wind power has been announced, with 11 new sites identified around the UK, including two off the Scottish coast.

A MAJOR expansion in offshore wind power has been announced, with 11 new sites identified around the UK, including two off the Scottish coast.

Up to 7,000 more turbines could be built in the seas around the UK within ten years, providing a quartADVERTISEMENTer of the nation's electricity. The two Scottish zones identified lie off the east coast – one in the Firth of Forth, the other in the Moray Firth.

Yesterday's decision came as the country steps up its efforts to meet European Union targets to provide 20 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

It will boost the energy to be generated from offshore wind power to 33 gigawatts – triple current levels.

The 11 areas earmarked have been chosen because of their levels of wind, water depth and potential for connecting to the grid. Shipping and environmental concerns have also been taken into consideration. Two offshore turbines have already been built in the Moray Firth, in a trial called the Beatrice Demonstrator Project.

The sea off the east coast of Scotland is shallower than in the west, making turbine construction easier.

Yesterday's announcement by the Crown Estate, which owns the UK seabed, was welcomed by environmental groups, the wind energy industry and the Scottish Government.

Malcolm Wicks, the UK energy minister, said developing offshore wind on a large scale would be key to delivering the UK's share of the EU target. He said wind power would help tackle two of the big challenges faced by the country: climate change and energy security.

"The expansion of wind energy is already a real success story for the UK. We will shortly become the leading country in the world in terms of the number of wind farms operating offshore," he said.

Jim Mather, the Scottish energy minister, said he wanted to see more offshore turbines in appropriate locations around the Scottish coast. "Offshore wind can play a vital role in Scotland's renewable future," he said.

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association, said Britain's seas were now "open for business".

She said: "This is fantastic news for the UK wind industry. This has brought delivery of the 2020 renewable energy targets a great deal closer."

Under the new plan, zones for wind farms generating a total of 25GW will be put out to tender. This compares to the 8GW already allocated for offshore wind. But Robin Oakley, Greenpeace's climate campaign chief, said even more had to be done, and he urged the government to abandon plans for nuclear power in favour of green energy.

"Offshore wind is a 21st-century, frontier technology that can deliver clean electricity to every home in Britain and secure our energy supplies for years to come," he said. "Our country could be the Saudi Arabia of offshore wind – and John Hutton (the Business and Enterprise Secretary] knows it.

"Instead, he's lost in a nuclear fantasy and flatly refuses to introduce the policies that have delivered huge economic benefits for Germany and Spain, which now lead the world in renewable energy.

"Britain is sitting on a treasure chest of green-collar jobs and clean, renewable energy – now we need to unlock it."

Jason Ormiston, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said the announcement was hugely important, considering how it compared with current allocations for wind power. He said: "We are talking three times what has already been planned. It's an enormous step-change and it's been largely brought about by the EU targets."

He said he was "pleasantly surprised" the Crown Estate had identified two sites off Scotland. But he added that any optimism had to be balanced by an understanding of the potential constraints – such as shipping and environmental damage.

Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said if the sites proved appropriate, they could become an important contribution to Scotland's renewable energy needs.

"They are talking about something equivalent to multiple nuclear power stations, so it's not small beer," he said.

Dr Dan Barlow, head of policy at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said offshore wind would become more and more attractive and could play a "critical role", especially with the urgent need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

He said: "Given the rising cost of fossil fuels, it's not surprising that renewables are going to become an even more attractive economic option. It's perhaps not surprising that we are now seeing more movement."

Opposition to the wind farms could come from the Ministry of Defence, which in the past has expressed concern that wind turbines could interfere with radar and get in the way of flight routes. A spokeswoman said: "They are not trivial issues. There are serious safety concerns."

Yesterday's announcement was made at the British Wind Energy Association's Offshore 08 conference in London.

• The ScotsmanDebates series discusses wind power and renewable energy at the Town Hall in Jedburgh on 14 October at 7pm. To reserve tickets, go to or write to David Lee, Scotsman Debates, The Scotsman, 108 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS.

Territorial boundaries mean turbine sites may not be the last

THE wind farms set to be built off the coast of Scotland may not stop with those sites identified yesterday.

The two zones put forward by the Crown Estate both lie outside Scottish territorial waters, which extend up to 12 miles out to sea.

This area lies under control of the UK government, rather than the Scottish Government.

Last month, the Crown Estate made a separate announcement about the procedure for offshore wind farm development within Scottish territorial waters.

It asked for expressions of interest from firms wishing to be considered to build offshore wind farms in Scottish territorial waters.

This means, in addition to wind farms in the two zones identified yesterday, further turbines could spring up in Scottish territorial waters in the future.

Just how much interest there is from the wind industry in building wind farms in Scottish waters is likely to become apparent in the next few months.

The Crown Estate announced it would decide which locations in Scottish territorial waters are suitable by the end of the year.

One drawback of the sea around Scotland is it is far deeper than most of that around England as the continental shelf drops off suddenly off the coast.

The technology to construct turbines – which can be up to 300ft tall – in deep water will need to be more advanced than for shallow water.

How the breeze is harnessed worldwide

THERE are 16 offshore wind-power projects currently operational worldwide.

Denmark is leading the way with seven of the schemes – including the Horns Rev project with 80 turbines, at present the largest project in the world.

Sweden has three offshore wind farms, while the Netherlands has two.

In Scotland, two offshore wind turbines have been built in the Moray Firth as a trial project by Talisman Energy and Scottish and Southern Energy.

Scotland's first full wind farm is a 180-megawatt project under construction at Robin Rigg, in the Solway Firth. It will be made up of 60 turbines and, when complete, is expected to provide enough electricity for about 150,000 households annually.


THE next step will be for the UK government to carry out an environmental assessment to decide whether the identified 11 sites are suitable.

It will examine issues such as impact on wildlife, shipping lanes and fishing. It is expected to be complete by early next year, when those zones considered suitable will be put out to tender.

The zones will be allocated to developers by the end of 2009.

The Crown Estate will then work with the developers to identify specific sites within the zones and it is expected there will be more than one wind farm within each zone. Companies will have to apply for planning permission for the wind farms from the UK government.

The Crown Estate, which owns the UK seabed, has agreed to invest up to 50 per cent of the cost of obtaining planning consent for the sites.

The wind farms should start being built from 2014 and will be operational from 2018, in time to meet 2020 targets.

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