Scottish Power Renewables Update on Argyll Array Offshore Windfarm
Following detailed technical and environmental site studies, ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) has confirmed that they will not be taking forward their lease option to develop the Argyll Array Offshore Windfarm in the near future. The company has stated that the project may be viable to reconsider as offshore wind technology develops in the longer term, but estimates that will not be within the next decade.
ScottishPower Renewables has been working on the Argyll Array project since 2009, and a variety of detailed technical and environmental studies have been completed as part of their initial development work. These studies have been thoroughly reviewed over the last 12 months in order to evaluate the viability of the project and on the basis of these findings, a decision not to progress the project, has been taken by both ScottishPower Renewables and The Crown Estate.
The main issues affecting the progression of the project are the ground conditions in the site, particularly the presence of hard rock, coupled with challenging wave conditions which could impact construction. Beyond this, there is a significant presence of basking sharks, which environmental groups continue to study to get a greater understanding of their movements in the area.
Jonathan Cole, Head of Offshore Wind at ScottishPower Renewables, said: “We believe it is possible to develop the Argyll Array site, it has the some of the best wind conditions of any offshore zone in the UK.
“However, it is our view that the Argyll Array project is not financially viable in the short term. As cost reductions continue to filter through the offshore wind industry, and as construction techniques and turbine technology continues to improve, we believe that the Argyll Array could become a viable project in the long term.
“The rate of progress in development of foundation and installation technology has been slower than anticipated. The current outlook for offshore wind deployment in the UK suggests this will not significantly improve in the short term. This supports the view that it could take 10-15 years for the required technology improvements to be available for this project.
“The Crown Estate agrees with our findings and development work will cease on the project with immediate effect. This will give ScottishPower Renewables the opportunity to fully construct the West of Duddon Sands project with DONG Energy, and continue development work on the East Anglia Zone with Vattenfall.”
The Crown Estate manages the seabed around the UK, including leasing for offshore renewable energy projects. The organisation, which works on a commercial basis with profits paid to the UK Government, does not regulate or give planning consent for projects.
Ronnie Quinn who leads The Crown Estate’s Scottish Energy & Infrastructure team said: “While there is an excellent wind resource at the Argyll Array site, both organisations agree that the project should not proceed at this point in time. Developers have to take a wide range of factors into account when preparing to apply for planning consent – this decision by The Crown Estate and SPR follows a very thorough assessment of all those factors. We look forward to continuing to work with ScottishPower Renewables on other sites and programmes.”
ScottishPower Renewables continues to demonstrate commitment to offshore wind in the UK, with the 389MW West of Duddon Sands project currently under construction in the Irish Sea with DONG Energy. An application for consent was also submitted in 2012 with Vattenfall for the East Anglia ONE offshore windfarm, which could have a capacity of up to 1200MW.
UK govt. asked to reconsider approach to renewable energy subsidies
Orkney Islands Council is calling for the UK Government to reconsider its approach to renewable energy subsidies following publication of “strike prices” which fall short of offering special rates for marine-based power generated on Scotland’s islands.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change consulted earlier this year on strike prices – the minimum prices developers could expect to be paid – for electricity generated from renewable sources.
The consultation included an option for a higher strike price for islands-based renewables projects – an “island uplift” – to reflect the higher costs of transmission from Scotland’s island areas.
While the strike prices announced today retain an island uplift for onshore wind projects, there is no such uplift for energy generated from wave or tidal technologies.
Convener of Orkney Islands Council, Steven Heddle, said: “We’ve invested heavily in wave and tidal infrastructure in Orkney, in anticipation of commercial-scale development.
“The Council, and others with a keen interest in maximising Orkney’s huge potential for generating energy from the seas around us, have pressed DECC on this issue over a considerable period of time. So it is highly disappointing that our calls to level the playing field for these emerging technologies seem to have been ignored.
“This latest announcement is a body blow for the timely commercial development of the wave and tidal sector in the UK, and one which destabilises the case for a vital transmission link to the mainland markets.
”It is nonsensical that one technology – onshore wind – has been granted an islands uplift, while marine-based projects have not, when transmission costs are the same regardless of the source of generation.
”Wave and tidal energy are central to the UK meeting its climate change and clean energy targets – it’s vital that strike prices reflect the added challenges of harnessing marine energy in Scotland’s islands, to ensure developers and investors are not turned back by the higher costs involved, thus losing the UK its hard won lead in this new global industry.
”We would urge the UK Government to give serious consideration to introducing and islands uplift for islands-based marine renewables, and to urgently progress grid underwriting and guarantees for island transmission links, so that the country’s greatest marine energy resources can contribute to meeting avowed national targets.”
The UK Government announcement can be found at:
Ten positions to be filled
The Edinburgh firm, which is currently testing its Oyster 800 full-scale wave machine at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, is seeking eight experienced engineers to join their core engineering, design and project team, together with an operations technician based in Orkney and a research fellow to work at the company’s academic base in Queen’s University Belfast.
“These are exciting times for our company,” says company Chief Executive Officer Martin McAdam. “This summer we went through an extensive refit of our Oyster 800 machine which has yielded very positive results and we are now looking to further improve the machine’s reliability and durability, and begin the design of our next-generation Oyster 801.
“To do this we need skilled, experienced engineers to join what is already a tremendously enthusiastic and talented team. We have made no secret of the challenges involved in making machines that can harness the enormous power in ocean waves, and what we need now are technically strong individuals who can bring experience from other fields to help us in our quest.
“Each job offers a genuine opportunity to make a difference and change forever the way our future energy is made,” McAdam concludes.
In addition to their test site at EMEC in Orkney, the Edinburgh firm has gained all consents to develop a 40MW wave farm off the Isles of Lewis, which would require up to 50 Oyster wave energy machines.
All jobs are permanent positions and come with a package of benefits including company pension and healthcare.
Aquamarine Power’s backers include electricity utility SSE and ABB, one of the world’s largest power and automation companies.
For full details of the positions advertised, please visit: http://www.aquamarinepower.com/work-with-us/
About Aquamarine Power
Aquamarine Power’s Oyster wave power technology captures energy in near-shore waves and converts it into clean sustainable electricity. In simple terms, Oyster is a wave-powered pump which pushes high pressure water to drive a conventional onshore hydro-electric turbine.
Aquamarine Power’s shareholders include the UK’s leading generator of renewable electricity SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy), global power and automation company ABB and Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Government’s enterprise agency.
The renewable energy developer Mainstream Renewable Power is deploying the North Sea’s first commercial floating LiDAR wind measurement device to support the proposed 450MW Neart Na Gaoithe offshore windfarm.
Dutch technology provider, FLiDAR will launch its floating LiDAR device at the site 16km off the coast of Fife early in 2014.
The state-of-the-art measuring equipment includes a Leosphere LiDAR adapted to be mounted on a standard marine buoy. It’s powered by its own renewable energy system comprising solar photovoltaic and wind power technology.
David Sweenie, offshore manager Scotland, Mainstream Renewable Power, said: “This announcement underpins our commitment to innovation and to the adoption of the technologies that have the potential to drive down the cost of offshore wind.”
Prior to its launch, the floating LiDAR will also be the first device to be validated at Narec’s newly installed Offshore Anemometry and Research Platform located off the coast of Blyth, Northumberland.
The prototype was validated earlier this year in the Irish Sea as part of the UK’s Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator programme, which served to add to for the commercial market.
Neart Na Gaoithe is seen as a flagship project for offshore renewables in Scotland and is a key project in Mainstream’s global portfolio.
The project received planning consent for the onshore works connected to the windfarm in June 2013 and a decision on the offshore elements is expected by the end of 2013.
FLiDAR is a joint venture between renewable energy consultancy 3E and Offshore & Wind Assistance, a subsidiary of marine contractor Geosea.
River Energy Systems, based in Methil, has developed the device and is hoping to move into production this year, thanks to support from Scottish Enterprise and a contribution of £260,000 under the SMART Research & Development initiative. The support was awarded to help the company undertake development of the device to the point where it can be commercialised.
The river device, named Hydros, is based on a helical screw which rotates with the movement of the water to generate electrical power. It is scaleable to any river size, sits under the water line and is designed to have a minimal impact on the river environment.
The Crown Estate has already granted a lease for a device to be placed in a larger river and market opportunities have been identified in Scotland, UK and overseas. As the product is easily scaleable it offers effective results to a number of different markets from private estates to local authorities.
Paul Trayner, managing director of River Energy Systems, said, “It is exciting that we are now able to demonstrate this device to potential investors and customers. This trial device, which was designed and manufactured in Fife, could, itself, supply a typical house with its energy needs so the opportunity for a much bigger river is significant.”
Ronnie McKechan, Account Manager of Scottish Enterprise said, “This kind of innovation is potentially very important both to the energy market but also to the Fife economy. We are keen to see the working prototype move into production and are very encouraged that River Energy Systems have a number of key customers and markets showing interest in the concept. “
Cllr Tom Adam, chair of Levenmouth Area Committee said, “Fife is fast becoming recognised as a centre of excellence in the renewables industry and the continuing innovation and manufacturing opportunities are great news for jobs and the local economy. The new concept we have seen today is proof indeed that supporting businesses in FRIC and the Energy Park Fife is producing great results. It’s also great to hear that if successful this project will create jobs locally too.”