Scotland sets out long-term vision to cut power sector emissions

Carbon from power generation to fall by four fifths by 2030

Scotland has set a target to cut carbon emissions from electricity generation by more than four-fifths by 2030, underlining the huge market for offshore wind beyond 2020.

First Minister Alex Salmond revealed the new target in an address this morning at the Scottish Renewables/Scottish Enterprise Offshore Wind & Supply Chain Conference, Aberdeen.

In 2010 emissions from electricity grid activity in Scotland were estimated to amount to 347 grams of carbon dioxide per Kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity generated.

A target of 50gCO2/kWh by 2030 – in line with independent advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change – is contained within Scotland’s revised Offshore Wind Route Map, launched today, and also in the Scottish Government’s draft second report on proposals and polices (RPP2) to meet overall emissions targets, being published at Holyrood this afternoon.

Offshore wind farmThe UK Government has resisted industry and Scottish Government calls to use its Energy Bill, currently proceeding through Westminster, to set a decarbonisation target for the power sector now – instead, legislating for a decision on whether to set such a target to be made in 2016 at the earliest (i.e., after the next UK election).

Mr Salmond said: “We face a global imperative to tackle climate change and how we power our economies is a key part of that. Offshore wind has a strong, vibrant future, with plans to install up to 10 GW of capacity in Scottish waters over the next decade. More sites are being scoped for deployment in the 2020s – alongside commercial wave and tidal generation – as grid and interconnection upgrades and storage are further developed.
The First Minister  also announced the signing of new Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between Highland & Islands Enterprise (HIE) and four key ports in the region to support the development of the offshore wind sector.  The partnership aims to help the ports attract a potential £100m of investment to the Highlands. The  four joint-working agreements with Port of Ardersier, Kishorn Port Limited and Cromarty Firth Port Authority and Global Energy Nigg  will support  owners and operators to secure consents, market opportunities, attract investments and enable further development.

Dan Finch, UK Managing Director of EDP Renovaveis and co-chair of Scotland’s Offshore Wind Industry Group (OWIG), said: “To build a long-term sustainable industry and to insulate consumers from rising fossil fuel costs, we need a strong political commitment to renewables. Setting decarbonisation targets is a key part of delivering the confidence necessary for investment.”

He said: “We are working hard with our enterprise agencies both to secure overseas investment into our world-leading renewable energy industry and to support Scottish businesses to seize the huge opportunities available, working in partnership with inward investors and the rest of the supply chain to create jobs and help re-industrialise communities right across Scotland. These ports are ideally-positioned to become key hubs for the deployment of offshore wind, wave and tidal energy – across manufacturing, assembly, operations and maintenance – and the new Memorandums of Understanding with Highlands & Islands Enterprise underpin the importance that we attach to ensuring that all of Scotland wins from the renewables revolution.”

HIE Chief Executive Alex Paterson added:
“The offshore wind supply chain is showing strong interest in Scottish ports and harbours, and these official agreements give the market the strongest possible statement that the ports in the Highlands and Islands are open for renewables business.  HIE is fully committed to working with ports across the region to ensure that they are ready to support manufacture, fabrication, assembly, deployment and operational support for the Scottish, UK and European offshore wind market.”


Article by Rob Trythall of No-Tiree-Array

On the 7th Dec 2012  SPR /Iberdrola announced, that it had put the proposed Tiree  Arrayon hold for 12 months “ and “ all development work on the project will stop at the end of 2012′

But SPR did not state WHY !

All  SPR stated  was that ‘during ‘, this supposed  ‘12 month project pause’  SPR ‘will work with others to study initial detailed environmental studies of the site’ . SPR went on to make reference ‘to monitor  the offshore wind industry progress …to  fully developing technical solutions that are able to deal with the physical conditions at the wind farm site‘.

But SPR, on their  website, expressed this ‘pause’  more explicitly to be  ‘….. with a view to developing a technical solution that is fit for purpose in dealing with the physical characteristics of this site.’

So what does this SPR project-speak mean? .

By implication, currently, there is no technical solution fit for purpose to develop the proposed Argyll(Tiree) Array.

Is there a convenient convergence of technical, environmental and financial issues which have provoked SPR’s 12 month halt?

The concept  of a ‘pause‘ was put in starker perspective, with SPR’s further 21st Dec update   which used the “IF” word , in stating ‘…if the project is restarted...’

Ten months ago, before SPR  announced any delays to the proposed Array, NTA published an interview with Jonathan Cole, Managing Director Iberdrola  (Global Offshore Wind).  Cole advised in Feb 2012 that   ‘the construction of Argyll Array will probably take place a “few years” after the first portion of Iberdrola’s biggest offshore challenge — the 7.2GW East Anglia Round 3 zone that it is jointly developing with Swedish utility Vattenfall’

So,10 months ago SPR /Iberdrola hinted at delay to the proposed Tiree Array.

That delay has now come to fruition. But SPR has not given any clear reason WHY?

Lets explore the convergence of  Technical, Environmental, and Financial issues:-

(1) Technical:

The technical trajectory of offshore wind in 2009, when the proposed Array was originally announced, has proven to be recklessly optimistic. In Aug  2010 SPR was looking to 2nd Qtr 2012  to make its consents submission. The political dimension, to deliver this proposed Array by 2020, was embraced by the developer as a facilitating raison d’être.

No other European offshore Array has been built or proposed in  ‘the very aggressive sea conditions ‘ that exist in the waters off Tiree(SPR’s words). Scottish Government has yet to complete the appropriate turbine Testing Centre.

The economies of scale have dictated a requirement to deploy minimum 6MW rated turbines. Only one manufacturer has a tested,  approved 6MW offshore model in production.  The same economies of scale, linked to the environmental issues motivating SPR to consider reducing the Array area, and statutory mitigation obligations, push SPR  towards the 10MW turbine. The reduced area could still accommodate  180/10 MW turbines to maximise the Array to its originally proposed 1800MW.   A 10MW turbine is on a drawing board, somewhere,  in the ‘ cloud’ !

Foundation options are very limited and, as yet, not Argyll(Tiree) Array suitable.

Meanwhile in June 2012 the UK Offshore Task Force report indicated that offshore costs, subject to UK Government’s endorsement of its recommendations, may be  reduced to £100/MWh. This figure co-insides with UK Government’s indicative requirement to maintain subsidy. No coincidence there then!! Which is the cart, or horse, in this arrangement is not clear.


(2) Environmental: Possible delay due to environmental issues existed from the start. In their Aug 2010 SPR Scoping Request to Marine Scotland, SPR  referred to Tiree’s’ ‘Basking Shark Hot-Spot status‘, and the Great Northern Diver’s status with reference to the JNCC’s recommendation ‘that when the complete suite of marine SPAs in inshore areas as being determined, the inshore areas of Coll and Tiree ( or parts thereof ) should be considered for inclusion‘.

Ostensibly these considerations prompted the original 18 month delay announced in  Mar 2012, and manifested themselves again at the end of Oct 2012 when SPR  intimated they were considering reducing by approx 1/3rd the overall size of the wind farm.

Five weeks later (7th Dec)  SPR  announced their 12 month halt, and a week later (13th DecScottish Government  published details of its MPA consultation. This included the proposed Tiree  Array in  the MPA search areas.



One can only speculate as to any link or co-incidence between  Scottish Government’s inclusion of the Array Area for possible MPA status, and SPR’s decision to halt development .

(3) Financial:This is the area of greatest speculation. Iberdrola is currently in a major debt reduction /restructuring programme to satisfy its bankers with regard to its future investment plans.

SPR/ Iberdrola may be suffering from project indigestion .

In Feb 2012 SPR’s Cole stated that ‘construction of Argyll Array will probably take place a “few years” after the first portion of Iberdrola’s biggest offshore challenge — the 7.2GW East Anglia Round 3 zone that it is jointly developing with Swedish utility Vattenfall’.

This has proved prescient.  Ten days after announcing their project halt to the proposed Argyll( Tiree) Array , SPR/Iberdrola announced submission of their planning application for  East Anglia Phase 1(1200MW- 43Km offshore). Simultaneously SPR /Iberdrola entered a preferred turbine supplier agreement with AREVA Wind for the Wikinger offshore wind project in the Baltic Sea.

E.Anglia is still subject to consent. Both projects do not have final investment decisions. Both projects, with construction now hoped for in  2016 and 2017, are running  approx 12-18 months later than originally scheduled.

SPR’s  Cole said in Feb, Tiree Array was probably not going to take place till after the E Anglia project. If consented and the investors decide to invest, E Anglia cannot be a realised till 2017. Co incidentally, if SPR decide to restart the Tiree Array project, the earliest SPR consents submission could be made would be end 2015. Allowing for the L&C and investment decision process,SPR/Iberdrola  would not have to make any investment commitment to the Tiree Array till 2017 ie after completion of the E Anglia project.

The excessive cash flow requirements of the Wikinger, and E. Anglia projects, may have been the basis of SPR-Iberdrola’s expedient commercial logic to halt all development on the Tiree Array.

So, with no clear reason given for this halt , where does Tiree Array go from here?  NTA asked SPR, and received this enigmatic response;-

The pause will delay the submission for a planning consent.  The precise delay is determined by the amount of effort put into addressing the remaining workload (medium effort over an extended timeframe v major effort over a shortened timeframe) plus the seasonal nature of collecting some of the baseline data we still need.  This effort is not determined yet.  The programme to complete the project will be reviewed in 12 months.

NTA started 2012 with SPR targeting 2nd half 2013 to make the Consents Submission.

NTA ends 2012 with;-

  • SPR putting a halt to all Array development.
  • A project review in 12 months time
  • An indeterminate date for any Consents Submission.

This article originally appeared on the No-Tiree-Array website on Jan 3rd 2013

Scotland’s Renewable Energy Year in Focus 2012

Some highlights and low points


Aquamarine Power acquires new funding in the form of investment by Scottish Equity Partners , another expression of confidence in Aquamarine’s rapidly progressing Oyster wave power technology.

A further boost for wave power came mid month when Alstom and SSE Renewables signed  a  joint venture agreement  to develop the Costa Head Wave Project, an up to 200 Megawatts (MW) wave energy site located north of mainland Orkney.

Meanwhile Samsung Heavy Industries announce that Methil in Fife will be the test site their new 7MW offshore wind turbine


The month began with the news that the first steel had been cut at Ferguson’s for the new Hybrid ferry, heralding a return to civilian shipbuilding on the Clyde after a five year drought.

February also saw the signing of the agreement between Scottish Power/National Grid, Siemens and cable-maker Prysmian  for the  2.2GW  600kV   WesternHVDC subsea interconnector  which will allow the export to the rest of the UK of much more Scottish renewable energy, the existing N-S interconnector being almost at full capacity.

Other good news included the announcement of the new Coire Glas pumped hydro storage scheme, the largest hydro project to be built in Scotland and the first brand new pumped storage scheme to be developed in Great Britain since 1974.  . This scheme also brought various environmental groups out of the woodwork, with the Ramblers Association and the John Muir Trust in the vanguard. The Mountaineering Council of Scotland , after initially objecting, ended up giving their qualified blessing to the scheme.


The month started with news of the highest ever hydro electric output  in Scotland  .

This news was followed by the Scottish Government’s Draft Electricity Generation Policy Statement, committing Scotland to generating the equivalent of 100% of demand from renewables by 2020  –  a target that set tongues wagging for the rest of the year.

This was also the month that the anti-wind campaign led by Tory back-benchers and papers such as the Telegraph and Daily Mail began to gather momentum. A popular initial tactic was to blame renewables for the sharp increases in household energy bills, an idea that still has traction in spite of the OFGEM report  which clearly shows that onshore wind added just £5 to the average household energy bill in 2011.

March also saw Gamesa finally come off the fence and choose Leith over Dundee or Hartlepool for their new turbine manufacturing facility , giving the lie, some said,  to reports that investors were being scared off by uncertainties over Scotland’s constitutional future. Nine months down the line however there is still no news of when the facility is likely to be built or become operational.


 April saw a major blow to Scotland’s wind manufacturing hopes  when Doosan Power Systems announced it was  abandoning its plans  for developing offshore wind turbines in Scotland “in light of the overall economic conditions and liquidity issues in Europe”.

Meanwhile, ‘The Donald’ came to Holyrood and huffed and puffed  but failed to blow the house down . . . 


Major news in May – though announced very softly – was  the announcement by OFGEM of  their intent to retain locational charging as a principal element in the way in which generators pay to use the UK’s transmission network. This was the first grid-related blow of the year to the renewable energy ambitions of the Northern and Western isles, but more were to follow.


New reports on offshore wind published this month suggested that the industry could slash current costs by 30%  and that it had the potential to boost UK GDP By 0.6% by 2030

Midsummer also saw the publication of the Scottish Government’s Marine Energy Action Plan,  the replacement for the old Marine Road Map.  The Action Plan however failed to address growing concerns about grid access for island renewables.


July brought the news that Scots renewable energy output was at record levels and that the target of 100% equivalence by 2020 was achievable


 The month began with a joint statement from various Argyll community groups saying that up to 10MW of community renewable energy projects in the county are currently on hold because of grid constraints. These projects have the potential to generate an income of £1.5 million a year for local communities. Grid failings are emerging as one of this year’s top issues.

Some good grid news however was the announcement that the UK-Norway Interconnector project had secured a connection point at Peterhead on this side of the North Sea

Hydro electric power generation at Glendoe restarted in August after a three year hiatus. The 100MW scheme near Fort Augustus went offline in August 2009 as a result of a rock fall in the tunnel carrying water from the scheme reservoir to the power station.


September saw the news of a 30MW tidal array planned off the Rhinns of Islay

However, September also brought more bad news on grid charges, with Pentland and Orkney wave and tidal grid charge estimates hitting £100m.


There was plenty of good news for offshore wind in October, with the announcement of the Hunterston offshore test centre and the revelation that news that both the MOD and the RSPB had now withdrawn their objections  to the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre  off Aberdeen, leaving the Trump Organisation isolated.

In the same month an application for consent was sought for a 1GW offshore windfarm  in the the Firth of Forth Offshore Wind Zone


November saw French company AREVA announce their intention to build a wind turbine manufacturing facility on the East coast, with the potential to create 700 jobs.   At present this is no firmer than a ‘memorandum of understanding’ signed between Areva and the First Minister.


Scottish Power Renewables announce they are putting the West Coast’s flagship offshore wind project, the Argyll Array, on hold for 12 months for further environmental studies.  . It is looking increasingly likely that future development of offshore wind in Scotland will focus on the East coast.

New figures were published showing that renewables met 36.3 per cent of Scots electricity consumption in 2011  . 26% of generated power was exported.

And in a feelgood event just before Christmas the first of CalMac’s two new Hybrid ferries, MV Hallaig, was launched at Ferguson’s shipyard on the Clyde.


Scots Renewables would like to wish all our readers a happy and prosperous 2013.

Wind Turbine Syndrome or Turbophobia?

Is ‘wind turbine syndrome’  an allergic response by the over-sensitive?

Wind turbine syndrome - fact or fantasy?Wind turbines are making headlines again after the  recent coalition windfarm debacle  where Hayes, the energy minister, announced  ‘enough is enough’ while the energy secretary assured us there had been ‘absolutely no change in government policy’.  It seems that wind turbines are now politicised beyond rehabilitation, with the ‘anti’ side prepared to resort to increasingly strident and lunatic headlines to support their ’cause’.  We have the Telegraph’s deranged blogger James Delingpole spouting headlines such as  Alex ‘Butcher’ Salmond has destroyed Scotland while tabloids like the Express seek to employ medical metaphors with headlines like ‘Addiction to Windfarms a Disaster‘ going on to describe them as a ‘rash‘ and talking about vague  ‘health risks’.

It’s obviously a subject that gets people worked up, and one of the regular planks of  ‘anti’ campaigners countrywide is ‘wind turbine syndrome’. This is a mysterious disease allegedly caused by low-frequency sound generated by wind turbines. Symptoms reported include many that are common in the population at large such as hypertension (high blood pressure), mental health problems, sleeping difficulties, sensory problems (eyes, hearing, balance)  and learning and concentration  difficulties. 

The symptoms may be real, but are they  really caused by the proximity of wind turbines, or are the turbines a convenient scapegoat? Many independent reviews have been carried out but no scientific evidence of a connection between proximity to wind turbines and the reported symptoms has ever been established. 

So are the people who claim to be suffering from wind turbine syndrome making it up? Or is it a cover-up by the wind industry? Both explanations seem unlikely.

It seems there may be a third explanation. The symptoms are real, and in a sense they are caused by wind turbines – specifically, by an abnormal sensitivity to the technology. In a similar way to the way allergy sufferers become sensitised through exposure to their particular allergen so those exposed for long perioods of time to negative emotions and reacti0ns to wind turbines – their own or others – become unable to bear the presence of these ‘monsters’, as they now see them. The childhood bogeyman under the bed which used to keep them awake is transmuted to the menacing wind turbine three fields away. Noises many decibels below the noise of traffic on the road past their house or even of the wind in the trees – noises that most people simply do not notice – become painfully obvious to the sufferers  as they lie awake in bed with nerves at breaking point listening as hard as they can for the swish of those revolving/revolting  blades.

Their suffering is real, but it is in essence an allergy. Senitisation is brought about by exposure to anti-wind sentiment, and so it is a self-perpetuating syndrome. Once sensitised these people become upset by the very sight of a  single turbine miles away, even though it is dwarfed by the landscape it sits in and occupying a very small percentage of their field of view. They will justify this by talking about  industrialisation of the countryside and the fact that it is not the towers but the movements of the revolving blades that make them so irritating, but this is of course subjectie – pothers find turbines either newutral or attractive.  However, by spreading these ideas the sufferers joyfully  spread the contagion, hoping to infect others so the new sufferers will join the campaign.

So does it matter? How angry are you about wind turbines? Are they making you ill?  Or  is wind turbine syndrome just an extreme manifestation of  turbophobia, the  irrational fear of turbines?

 Links to recent articles

 Wind turbine syndrome: a classic ‘communicated’ disease  (Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Health, University of Sydney)

 Wind turbine syndrome: who’s doing the research? (Ros Donald, Carbon Brief)

 Nocebo Doubt About It: “Wind Turbine Syndrome” Is Catching (Basically a report on the Chapman article, ,but some interesting comments)




Marine energy park welcomed – but still just a drop in the ocean

Osbourne’s dash for gas ‘must be stopped’ says FOE

Welcoming the launch today (Monday 30 July 2012) of the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters in the North of Scotland as a Marine Energy Park, Friends of the Earth Energy Campaigner Guy Shrubsole said:

“Renewable energy projects such as this are exactly what are needed to reduce the nation’s reliance on dirty and increasingly expensive gas and create thousands of new jobs.

“This Marine Energy Park is just a splash in the ocean – the potential of clean British energy is enormous.

“But, the push to build a clean and affordable future is under threat from George Osborne’s reckless drive for more gas-fired power stations.

“A new dash for gas will have a damaging impact on household fuel bills and UK climate targets – the Chancellor must be stopped.”