Benefits of Wind Energy Are Mapped
Jan 31, 2009 - The Scotsman
A government study says onshore wind energy could
offer great economic and community benefits for the
Western Isles - less than a year after ministers rejected
plans for Europe's biggest wind farm in the islands.
The report predicts that green energy projects can
be key drivers for the islands' economy without harming
The study was commissioned by the government after
it refused consent for a 181-turbine project in Lewis
The results were welcomed yesterday by Western Isles
Council, which has been promoting the islands as a
green energy centre. It says Lewis could support bigger
projects than those now planned by ministers because
of its excellent natural resources.
The study says the best opportunities are south and
west of Stornoway, with potential for a 150 megawatt
(MW) wind farm in Lewis in addition to projects already
Smaller, community-led wind development is more suitable
in Harris, the Uists and Barra, it suggests, while
there is marine potential of 105MW by 2015.
Inshore wave potential is around 30MW, with tidal
potential of 75MW in the Sound of Harris, and much
more in the offshore wave resource.
The report also suggests developing a local wind
energy control centre and for developers to manufacture
turbines at Arnish Point in Lewis to create jobs in
Jim Mather, the enterprise minister, said: "We want
all areas of Scotland to be able to fully harness
our vast potential for cheap, clean and green electricity.
"Maximising that potential brings economic and community
benefits and the people of the Western Isles are no
different in wanting to use their natural resources
to build a sustainable economy."
Angus Campbell, the leader of Western Isles Council,
said he was encouraged that the Scottish Government
shared the authority's long- held view on renewable
energy as an economic driver.
"It is good that the study is clear that 150MW of
generation can happen in Lewis in harmony with environmental
designations," he said.
"It is disappointing, however, that the report only
identifies a potential of 150MW for Lewis, particularly
given the excellent wind resources of the islands.
That is a wasted resource at a time of economic challenge
for the islands."
Mr Campbell also called for a speedy approval of
a planned GBP 120 million, 53-turbine project at Eishken
in Lewis. "Any other decision would be a bitter blow,"
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, one
of the objectors to the 181-turbine project, also
welcomed the report.
Stuart Housden, the society's Scotland director,
said: "Individual proposals will still need to be
carefully sited and designed to ensure they do not
harm the environment or adversely affect European
Last week it was announced the world's largest wave
farm would be built off Lewis. The GBP 30 million,
4MW Siadar Wave Energy Project will provide enough
electricity to power about 1,800 homes.
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