Western Isles and Wind

western isles

I went to a presentation by SSE which included the Western Isles HVDC(high voltage direct current) line and they said that the Western Isles will be covered by wind turbines like a pin cushion and the money they put into the community (Community Benefit) will make the area one of the most wealthy in the UK. However they agree that the money cannot be given to local residents and that there will be no tourism industry left in the Isles. They truly believe that it is to the good of the islanders that the Western Isles will simply become one massive great wind farm. An offshore wind farm without the problems of building turbines in the sea. In their eyes it is “In the National Interest”. In our eyes it is in SSE’s interest as they will be paid handsomely to transfer the power to the south and make Beauly-Denny profitable. Problem is that it would seem that many Western Isles Councillors have bought into the project and see the industrialisation of the Western Isles as a positive step. Surely they are not all deaf, dumb and blind?

For the rest of us we are now faced with an underground cable going through some of the most beautiful areas of the Highlands. And there is nothing we can do about it because it is ‘permitted development’. It is not subject to planning as it is underground. At Wester Balblair the Beauly Denny transmission hub will get a massive new converter station. This has been previously approved but is either out of time or needs substantial modification to the original plans so will have to go through planning as will the termination station at Ullapool where the undersea cable from Arnish. Although Arnish sub station has been approved there have been some rumours that it will in fact terminate at Loch Carnon  where the backup diesel power station(11.8MW) is currently sited. Current proposed capacity for the Western Isles is 412MW of renewable power including 4oMW of wave energy.

Druim Leathann        –     39MW (wind)  2020 Renewables (Velocita Group)

Siadar Lewis Wave     –     40MW (wave) RWE (cancelled)

Stornoway Wind Farm     –  129.6MW (wind) AMEC and Electricite de France(EDF)

Muaithebheal Wind Farm  –  150MW (wind)  ?Uisnenis Power Company (company owned by Oppenheimer family)

Beinn Mhor, Lewis, Wind Farm – 140MW (wind) GDF Suez (cancelled)

Small distributed generation – 54MW (wind and wave)

With the collapse of the two Scottish wave energy companies this must be questionable. The small distribution of 54MW of uncontrollable single on farm and community turbines suggests a fairly horrific visual impact.

The only saving grace is that funding for this has to be approved by the National Grid and ultimately Amber Rudd and Osborne. Many promises have been made by such luminaries as Ed Davey at the Scottish Liberal conference and Amber Rudd had been pencilled in for a visit to the Isle in the autumn. Certainly promises by Fergus Ewing have been made but he is not the one that holds the purse strings. This project has been on and off more times that a tart’s drawers so no bets on the whether it is a fact or pipe dream. Should it go ahead the timeline suggests commissioning December 2020 by which time Hinckley Point will be coming on line, new gas power station will have been built and it is quite possible that we will have access to cheap fracked gas. Would you invest your pension in a Western Isles wind farm?

 

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About Dougal Quixote

Slightly mad. Always believes a cup is half full so continues to tilt at Wind Turbines and the politicians that seem to believe it is their god given right to ruin Scotland for a pot of fool's gold.
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5 Responses to Western Isles and Wind

  1. Helen says:

    Muaithebheal Wind Farm – 150MW (wind) ?Uisnenis Power Company (company owned by Oppenheimer family) – This wind farm is cancelled/mothballed. It was sold to International Power by Nicholas Oppenheim or rather the planning permission was for about £50m. International power was acquired by GDF Suez (now called Inergie….we are all keeping up with this!) who announced earlier on this year that they were not going ahead with the planting of turbines because of the various delays with the inter-connector. I have pointed this out to SSE who seem to think that this wind farm exists. SSE also had designs on 127 turbines in the Pairc area of Lewis which is not a million miles from the Muaithebheal Wind Farm. They pulled the plug on this one about 3 years ago. The original land fall for the cable was at Gravir where a mighty HVDC substation was planned. Gravir is nicely situated to facilitate the now mothballed wind farms at Eishken (Muaithebheal and Pairc). As you say, the grand plan for the Western Isles Council is to allow ‘community’ and any other type of wind farm to have planning permission in the hopes it will square away SSE Transmission’s needs case submission. Thank you.

    • Marvellous update which clarifies many points that I suspected but was finding it difficult to clarify. I was confused by Muaithebheal and Eishken Wind Farms as I believe Mick Oppenheim has been involved with both over time. All seem to be held in small companies with massive debt and few assets. Rather typical of the wind industry. The case for SSE is looking weaker by the minute.

      • Helen says:

        I think I had better go to the back of the class. Some of us thought that Muaithebhal wind farm and the Eishken/Beinn Mhor windmills were one and the same thing. And possibly they were. There have been various applications for extensions to the consented 33 turbines (following a reduction from 133). So by stealth another 18 or so have been added without taking the other 33 into account. Anyway, the Beinn Mhor Scheme (GDF Suez) was cancelled earlier this year. It now transpires that Mick/Nick/Uisnenis/Crionaig or whatever other companies he has on the go, are planning to continue with the 18 or however many turbines he has blagged through the planning system. This is where SSE are coming from. The ‘community’ has received about £2m which has been bunged (and I use that word quite deliberately) into a trust MCWT and it is being used for ‘projects’. This is without a single turbine being installed. I have always wondered why any developer would hand over cash willy-nilly and we now seem to be getting closer to the answer. I think there are quite a few people that thought that the Eishken estate (Pairc hills) had been saved from from 450ft wind turbines but this may not be so. It’s a question of whether the hedge fund manager takes a punt and puts his windmills up before the inter-connector is consented, in order to help it on it’s way, or waits until Ofgem give in. I suspect I have just un-clarified a number of points and for that, I apologise.

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