No Tiree Array (NTA)

We do not inherit the land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children


Valedictory – With SPR beating a formal retreat,and dropping the proposed Tiree (Argyll) Array, NTA  presented this  VALEDICTORY.


But before we go there let us consider SPR’s reasons-

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 significant presence of basking sharks, which environmental groups continue to study, to get a greater understating of their movements in the area.

It stretches credibility that it took SPR 5 years to arrive at this conclusion, after all:-

Basking sharks : Tiree always was a ‘Hot -spot”

Hard Rock: Known from the outset. SG even took photos !!

Challenging Wave Conditions  : Legendary.  The lantern room of Skerryvore Lighthouse was smashed, once, in a storm

The VALEDICTORY reviews the many issues, and problems, associated with the development of this proposed Tiree off shore wind farm, which SPR chose either to ignore or at best, rationalise, from the outset.

 A boat  trip to Skerryvore, or a walk up Ben Hynish, would have sighted these main issues.

Had SPR addressed them in 2008, SPR may have saved an estimated £12-15mill expenditure to arrive at this 2013 conclusion.

Offshore wind is staggeringly expensive, and inefficient. It has been described by Dieter Helm, Professor of Energy Policy, University of Oxford as:-

 “among the most expensive ways of marginally reducing carbon emissions known to man”.

NTA’s VALEDICTORY addresses the failures and weaknesses of the development process, including its public consultation’s nebulous claims of socio–economic benefit, and job-creation.

Basking Sharks emerged as a very significant environmental issue in the period up to SPR dropping the Tiree Array.

Tiree-Coll is an established European Basking Shark Hot-Spot.

SPR’s basking shark survey, in the summer of 2012,  sighted, in a 24 hr period, 918 basking sharks within the area of the proposed Array.

SPR, in Oct 2012, was aware of the potential damaging environmental impact on basking sharks,when SPR ‘considered‘ a meaningless reduction, by 1/3rd, in the size of the proposed Array.

If this offshore wind farm had gone ahead, thereby straddling a major basking shark migration route, it would have been an act of environmental vandalism.

The unique marine environment Tiree -Coll offers basking sharks, is best illustrated in this BBC video from ‘THE ONE SHOW’ , filmed during Basking Sharks Scotland Conference on Coll in Aug 2013

As we went through 2014 many related issues emerged  ie  the dropping of other offshore  wind farms ie the massive Atlantic Array in the Bristol Channel, and contraction in Developer intentions and investments .SSE shocked the industry with a major review of its offshore development portfolio resulting in (1) the dropping of the Islay Array (2|) major caveats put on SSE  continued interest in 2 other offshore wind farm developments , and (3) virtual withdrawal from Tidal projects . The Energy Market Reform Bill made it clear that subsidy largesse would be very limited .

As NTA considered its future beyond its 4th anniversary in Nov 2014 , NTA’s  chairman  penned his thoughts!!

2015 will be an interesting year for offshore wind.

The CfD subsidy round has probably a minimum  3000MW, from several Scottish and English possible developments,  chasing a subsidy ‘pot’ which at most may afford only abt 800MW ie one project will be winner Ceme Online

SSE’s Beatrice is the only current Scottish project with a subsidy award . In Nov 2014 it completed a major caveat to sustain commitment by selling a 25% interest to Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) ,ie reducing SSE’s stake to 50% thereby CIP on the same footing as  Repsol, which also holds 25%.

A final investment decision on whether to go ahead  is not expected until early 2016, and if positive, generation cannot be expected till end 2018/early 2019This reality makes a nonsense of Scotland’s Offshore Wind Route Map Developing Scotland’s Offshore Wind Industry to 2020 and Beyond ( Updated Jan 2013) .

Valedictory – How could the  Renewables  industry and Scottish Government get its forecast so badly wrong?  E.G.

2011:  Scottish -Norwegian Interconnect announced . Dropped in 20132014 : 8GW forecast to be in the Consent process. Actual figure less than 4GW
2015 : First Scottish offshore wind generation expected . Now not expected till end 2018 /early 2019 and only if SSE            commits to BeatriceThe UK Renewables  industry, and Scottish Government have been woefully optimistic in their assessment of project time-lines. They have consistently ignored acknowledging delays in Germany’s much more advanced offshore wind sector, where projects consented as early as 2005, and originally expected to commissioned in 2012 /2013, are now not expected to be commissioned till Q2 2015.

With  Brent trading well below $60 , and the possibility it may fall below $50, there will be a cold draft through the Renewables industry in 2015Challenging times !!