The trade association representing the wind industry, RenewableUK, has welcomed new research published by the Eskdalemuir Working Group (EWG) which unlocks the potential to install more than a gigawatt of onshore wind energy in Scotland in the years ahead – enough to power more than half a million British homes.
The EWG, which includes representatives from Governments and industry, commissioned a study on the safeguarding approach being used by the Ministry of Defence at the Eskdalemuir Seismic Array in Dumfries and Galloway, which monitors compliance on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
The recently-completed research confirms that there is scope to allow further wind farm consents nearer the array than previously permitted. A more accurate way of calculating any vibrations from wind turbines in areas near the seismological monitoring station has been devised, and new data has been validated by the MoD.
This would allow the MoD to withdraw objections to some of the wind energy projects proposed within 50km of the array, with a 15km exclusion zone set to be approved by the Scottish Government, following consultation.
The EWG is headed by the Scottish Government and includes representatives from DECC, the MoD, Scottish Renewables, RenewableUK and a number of its wind energy developer members who are shareholders in the Aviation Investment Fund Company Ltd (AIFCL) which has provided financial and technical support for the research work.
The Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “The Scottish Government-led Eskdalemuir Working Group is a fantastic example of industry, Government and the MoD working in partnership to resolve a major issue for the deployment of renewables.
With potentially 1 gigawatt of renewable energy now freed to progress through planning, I’m delighted that Scotland can now benefit from further significant economic rewards from harnessing our natural resources, including the hundreds of jobs created and the knock-on benefits to local companies and communities. I’m also delighted to see a Scottish SME, Xi Engineering Consultants Ltd, having been successfully appointed, then go on to undertake such ground-breaking scientific work in cooperation with the MoD’s own experts.”
RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Maria McCaffery said: “This new research provides a springboard for the UK’s wind energy industry to take another step forward, as it creates fresh opportunities to install new projects in a part of the country which enjoys excellent wind resources, without the prospect of automatic objections by the MoD. RenewableUK is proud to be playing its role as a member of the Eskdalemuir Working Group in supporting efforts to resolve this issue through a collaborative approach. The AIFCL has played a pivotal role by investing over £100,000 in this initiative as well as providing technical expertise and resources for research. We shall continue to work closely with our colleagues to ensure that we exploit the tremendous potential for clean and sustainable energy in this area”.
AIFCL DirectorTim Frenchwho works for RES and who chaired the Eskdalemuir Engineering Sub Group said: “It is a significant achievement reaching a resolution to the Eskdalemuir issue as it has held back a substantial amount of wind energy for the past 5 years. The AIFCL are delighted to have played a valuable part in providing both financial and technical support to the EWG. The strong collaboration between all the members of the Group, together with excellent input from the technical consultants, Xi Engineering, have enabled us to challenge original assumptions and develop a much more scientifically robust approach to safeguarding Eskdalemuir as we go forward”.