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Site Location

Using Ordnance Survey maps the proposed site was chosen through the process of elimination. Our site, Location 2, which is in Inverclyde and just south of Greenock, was chosen based on several favourable factors.

The site location is designated by the Scottish Government’s Wind Turbine Spatial Framework [1] as “Group Category 3.” This means the land has the potential for wind farm development, given that appropriate socio-economic and environmental considerations are made.

Access to the site is made relatively easy thanks to the nearby public roads, from which, the construction of access roads will be required to get to the wind farm itself. The ground is not overly rugged which means there is only very limited landscaping required prior to construction commencing. The site location also ensures disruption caused by the wind farm, to the local community will be minimal. The area does contain a small number of rural homes, however, there is adequate space to safeguard against noise pollution and shadow flicker, a buffer zone of 1 km from Greenock has also been included. During the delivery of turbine components, disruption to road traffic will unfortunately occur. The larger components, such as the turbine blades, will be transported by slow-moving heavy haulage vehicles under police escort from King George V dock in Glasgow to the site via the M8 motorway.

The site offers straight forward connection to the grid, with a 132 kV substation being just over 2 km away.

Social Impacts

The Scottish Government requires all potential wind farm installations to justify themselves by providing evidence that they will create a positive Socio-Economic benefit in the local area. One Scottish Government guideline is the utilisation of Wind Farm Community Benefit Funds [2]. The proposed wind farm follows this guidance by donating £5000 per installed megawatt to a fund for the local community. The total amount donated per year will amount to £112,500. The site will also create jobs. During construction, the wind farm may create jobs for up to thirty people (based on research by the University of Michigan) [3] with one to two permanent jobs after construction is complete.

However positive social impact goes beyond simply monetary value. The proposed wind farm will allow public use of site access roads as routes for joggers, dog walkers and anyone who wants to get out and about.

Technical Design

The proposed site is a 22.5 MW installation, consisting of nine, 2.5 MW wind turbines. Each turbine used has a rotor diameter of 100 m. This length was used to inform the distance that turbines should be constructed from residences and other buildings. The map below highlights the location of each turbine, also note the neighbouring Inverclyde Windfarm.

Layout of Tubines

The prevailing wind directions come from the West and South-West. Because of this, extra care had to be taken to avoid imposing unnecessary wake losses on the adjacent wind farm.

The table below details the site specification:

AEP [GWh/year] Installed Capacity [MW] C.F. [%]
65.0849984 22.5 33.02130817

 

The site will be connected to the grid via a 132 kV substation 2.3 km away.

Concerns that the wind farm would disrupt aviation from Glasgow Airport are avoided, the site is located outside of Inverclyde Council’s guidelines [4] for areas of aviation concern. A map showing these areas is provided below:

Aviation map of Inverclyde

Environmental Impacts

To consider the potential impacts the wind farm will have on the environment, and environmental impact assessment will be carried out. The proposed wind farm will have a positive impact on the levels of CO2 being released from fossil fuel burning. Several areas will be looked at such as ornithology, hydrology, and the life cycle of wind farms

Ornithology

Ornithological map of Inverclyde

The proposed windfarm is 2.64 km away from Renfrewshire Heights which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) it is also a Special Protected Area (SPA). Care will need to be taken so as to not disturb the flora and fauna from the neighbouring area. Renfrewshire heights are home to 10 breeding pairs of hen harriers, making up 2% of the UK’s total hen harrier population. The proposed site is in the Clyde Muirshiel regional park which is home to many species such as short-eared owls, merlin, peregrine, and golden plover which are on annexe 1 of the birds directive meaning they are particularly threatened. This area is also home to whooper swans, red grouse, lapwing curlew and snipe on the higher ground and black grouse in the moorland fringe. To reduce disturbing these environments that the wildlife is living there. Any vegetation needing clearing will be done out with the breeding months of April to August.

A previous study of the existing Inverclyde windfarm which is 500 m away from our proposed site shows the relatively low number of bird collisions predicted and what we would expect at our proposed site [5].

Ornithological Survey Table

Hydrology

There is a risk to water sources during construction as dirt and dust are created. Digging channels around the construction site will mean that when it rains any contamination will flow into them rather than the surrounding streams and water sources e.g. reservoirs. Straw bales can also be used as walls to block contamination carried by the wind and in the drainage ditches to filter out the various sediments. Alternatively, check dams can be used where clean gravel acts as a filter. The PH levels of the surrounding water sources should also be regularly monitored.

Soil Disruption

The site is not built on land containing carbon-rich soil, i.e. peat. Locations which are rich in peat were, identified and avoided with help of the Inverclyde Council’s Draft Supplementary Guidance on energy

Peat map of Inverclyde

Life cycle

Once the wind farm reaches the end of its life sustainable decommissioning becomes important. Removal of foundations will be completed by removing the first metre of concrete and covering it with earth. However, turbine foundations can be used for new purposes, the concrete foundations of the turbines and site buildings are often used by farmers to repurpose and use for outhouse and livestock shelter foundations, this will be left to the discretion of the landowner. 85% - 90% of the wind turbines can also be recycled after decommissioning.  

Finances

 The construction of the site will be financed by a bank loan of £16,237,900 at 1% interest. The loan will be paid over the course of 10 years. The value of the loan was decided by summing all the one-off payments that were required to make the site operational. The table below outlines these expenses.

Turbine Costs Balance of Plant Grid Connection TOTAL COST
£11,610,000.00 £2,904,150.00 £1,725,000.00 £16,237,900.00

 

As stated before, the loan will be repaid over a decade, the annual repayment will be £1,793,812.39, which will leave only £963,309.52 to be paid in the final year. Below shows a chart visualising the repayment of the loan.

loan repayment

The wind farm also has a variety of annual expenses these are detailed in the table below.

Rent (year 1-13) Rent (year 14+) Maintenance Community Benefit Fund
£279,356.99 £372,475.99 £1,161,000.00 £112,500.00

The figure below shows the financial forecast of the wind farm for the first 25 years.

financial forecast

References

[1] Wind Turbine Spatial Framework, Improvement Service, [Online]. Available: https://data.spatialhub.scot/dataset/wind_turbine_spatial_framework-is/resource/5ef5299e-44c2-466a-ae93-5a9096a3d09a

[2] Community benefits from onshore renewable energy developments, Scottish Government, [Online]. Available:https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-government-good-practice-principles-community-benefits-onshore-renewable-energy-developments/pages/2/

[3] L. Adelman, Wind Turbine Economic Impact: Local Employment, University of Michigan, April 2020

[4] Draft Supplementary Guidance on Energy, Inverclyde Council, May 2021

[5] Renewables LLP, Ornithology - Inverclyde Wind Wind Farm Environmental Statement, [Online]. Available:

Ornithology - Inverclyde Wind Wind Farm Environmental Statement Inverclyde Renewables LLP Volume 2: Main Report Chapter 8: Ornithology 8 - 3 ENVIRON Assessment Methodology - [PDF Document] (vdocuments.net)

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