- In January Scottish Government air-brushed Tiree Array from its Route Map:-‘Scotland’s Offshore Wind Route Map Developing Scotland’s Offshore Wind Industry to 2020 and Beyond’
- In January Iberdrola-SPR dropped any reference to the Tiree Array from its current off shore wind programme.
This contrasts with SSER’s proposed Islay Array, 45 miles south of Tiree, which is on schedule to submit its consent application by end 2013.
SPR stated it halted the Tiree Array “to monitor the industry’s progress, with a view to developing a technical solution that is fit for purpose in dealing with the physical characteristics of this site”
As the proposed Tiree and Islay Arrays are located in similar very exposed sites, it is odd that Tiree Array is put on hold, yet Islay Array continues to progress towards a consents submission. In the last 3 months there has been no positive development to assist a technical solution. Off- shore wind turbines are designed to international classification society requirements [DNV/BV/GL], to withstand the rigours of anything the North Atlantic can throw and/ or blow at them! Although recent research in Norway may suggest otherwise.
This would suggest technical solutions mainly refer to foundation problems.
With regard to foundation design, any ‘technical development’ in the last 3 months has been negative.
(1) There was an initial failure in the installation of a pair of innovative suction bucket foundations at the Dogger Bank Array.
The first one is now installed but the 2nd one has been ferried back to Harland & Wolff Belfast for unspecified modifications. Failure was due to foundation movement, and interpretation of soil data.
This foundation design is significant element of the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator programme, committed to reduce off shore wind costs, from the current approx £175/MWhr, to £100/MWhr, the self-imposed developers target to secure continued Government subsidy.
(2) BARD Group, a German company at the forefront in developing new offshore energy resources, will cease offshore foundation production ( April 30 2013). This is due to ‘the present situation in the offshore wind industry which has for some time suffered from a lack of new orders, due in part to the uncertain political framework conditions”, which is reflected in the German Government’s latest plans for reforming the subsidies on renewable energy. Germany has been the premier nation in offshore wind investment, and technological development.
Other technical issues include establishing the energy- generating- efficiency of an Array the size of the proposed Tiree Array (361 sqkm). This research paper is sceptical.
Offshore wind technical problems may be a consequence of environmental considerations which may be why,SPR in halting Tiree Array offered among its reasons;- ‘ to work alongside other agencies to study the results of initial detailed environmental studies of the project area’ . But why Tiree and not Islay? The contrast between the Tiree and Islay Array is that Tiree is included in Scottish Government’s ‘Report to the Scottish Parliament on Progress to Identify a Scottish Network of Marine Protected Areas’ . ISLAY IS NOT INCLUDED
An MPA does not exclude locating/developing an Array within it, but the associated environmental constraints may render an Array non-viable.
Contributing to environmental considerations, was the sighting, 3rd week Feb ,of sperm whales in the Minch. This is a first for Scottish waters.
Why travel to Kaikoura in NZ, when you can whale-watch in your own Scottish backyard…provided, of course, an offshore windfarm has not intervened?
Cabling/Transmission :-The Tiree-Coll Grid cable connection has broken… again. The underwater Grid cable in Gunna Sound has broken for the 2nd winter running. Last winter,Tiree was running on diesel for five months, and this winter, so far, a month!
SPR acknowledged the cabling/transmission issues of the Tiree Array in 2012 when discussing cabling/transmission routes through Mull, for the Array. SPR stated their reason to maximize ‘on-land‘ cabling/transmission routes as opposed to ‘under-water’ was because ” …if it is is offshore, it is at risk of being dredged up and that could mean three months until we fixed it.”
Note the mirror calm of the sea..such conditions are very rare around Tiree!
To avoid cable breaks,as in the current break to the Tiree Grid connection, the cable requires to be buried.This dictates that the seabed be ploughed to a depth of 1-3m. Current plough design is for soft seabeds (above), not the gneiss rock of Tiree. Developing a ‘fit for purpose’ cabling solution for the Tiree Array,will be a major technical and environmental challenge.
O&M BASE;- The Tiree Onshore Scenario Mapping Exercise (TOSM) has been and gone. The Tiree location of such a base is trumpeted by both Developer and Government as the major constituent of the supposed Community Benefit package if the Array was to be consented. The TOSM assessed its value at £6.6 million per annum GVA, albeit qualified by conceding “that a high proportion… will be spent outwith Tiree …. but a significant proportion will be captured within Argyll and Bute“. But in January, Argyll and Bute Council announced that BARCALDINE was to be included in its LORN ARC TIF development project as the possible O&M base for both Tiree and Islay Arrays.
Argyll and Bute Council and HIE were sponsors of the Tiree Onshore Scenario Mapping Exercise, so NTA asked them for a clarification. HIE responded with reference to their June 2011 “West Coast Port Cluster ” study.This excluded Tiree from any port development. Otherwise their responses have been confusing and inconclusive.
TOURISM: Scottish Government’s ECONOMY ENERGY AND TOURISM COMMITTEE Report had its airing at the Scottish Parliament on 21 Feb. It included a sweeping generalisation of minimal negative impact on tourism at the national level. NTA forwarded the montages below to (1) all MSPs, including Alex Salmond, (2) VisitScotland’s Mike Cantlay and Malcolm Roughhead (C/man and CEO respectively ) and asked them if they would pay £1000/week in the summer, to rent a cottage with this view.
Is this the evidence the Committee requires that developments such as Tiree Array will have a negative impact on local tourism?