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Winds of Change on Islay

There is quite a bit to do about renewable energy on and around Islay and elsewhere. Scotland is one of the most forward thinking countries in finding solutions for renewable energy and to using the huge amount of resources they have in their favor, read wind, waves and tides. A quote from Wikipedia: "At the end of 2011, there was 4,796 megawatts (MW) of installed renewables electricity capacity in Scotland, an increase of 9.5 per cent (416 MW) on the end of 2010. Renewable electricity generation in 2011 was a record high at 13,750 GWh – an increase of 44.5 per cent on 2010. Around 35 per cent of Scotland's electricity came from renewables in 2011, exceeding the Scottish Government's target of 31 per cent. Scotland contributed almost 40 per cent of the UK's renewables output in 2011."

The targets of the Scottish government don't stop at 31 per cent. More and more energy will be generated using natural resources which will result in more tidal plants and also more wind farms, both on land and in the sea. From a landscape and aesthetic point of view the tidal arrays, for instance in the Sound of Islay, are perfect. They are invisible to the human eye and they generate quite a lot of electricity. The tidal array in the Sound of Islay will include up to four 1 MW tidal devices, one of which is currently on test at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney. The new development is expected to result in the Sound of Islay project becoming the largest tidal array in the world capable of generating up 10 MW of electricity in total, when fully operational.

To use wind as a renewable energy source one needs wind turbines, preferably in places where there is a lot of wind. Needless to mention here that Scotland has plenty of it. Already there are quite a few smaller and larger wind farms in Scotland, for now mostly on land, the so-called onshore wind farms. Continue reading....

The Scottish Government however has set out a roadmap to the year 2050 in which they designate a lot of areas in Scottish Waters as potential sites for large offshore wind farms. The Crown Estate owns the majority of Scotland’s seabed (out to 12 nautical miles) and has renewable energy rights out to 200 nautical miles and they play a central role in leasing the seabed for offshore renewable energy projects. And here is where Islay is involved.

The sea off the south and west coast of Islay is designated as a potential area for large scale offshore wind farm development. This could mean that potentially dozens of 130 meter high wind turbines could be installed within a 7 mile range off Islay's coast and yes, they will be visible from Portnahaven, Port Wemyss and other places on Islay's beautiful west coast, and also from Machir and Saligo Bay. Already Scottish and Southern Electricity Renewables (SSER) are planning in building a 60m mast on the Isle of Orsay for calculating wind and weather conditions for their proposed wind farm.

If this development will impact future jobs, the local economy or tourism on the island I do not know. What I do know is that quite a few locals and visitors are not at all pleased with the wind farms, despite the fact that everyone will understand that renewable energy is the only way forward. I personally don't like the view of these wind turbines either but if this, combined with other sources of renewable energy, is the only solution to drastically reduce greenhouse gases and reverse climate change, we might as well accept such plans and live with the consequences of a more or less spoilt view rather than having a sea level rise of several meters and other very discomforting climate changes we cannot even imagine right now.

If you are concerned about these plans and want more information you can send an email to power4islay@gmx.co.uk or contact the Community Council on islaycc@googlemail.com

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Tag: wind farm renewable energy

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