Frequently Asked Questions
Who Owns Allt Dearg?
The Wind Farm is owned by Allt Dearg Wind Farmers LLP (ADWF), a partnership which leases the ground on which the Wind Farm, access tracks and substation are situated, from the Stronachullin and Ormsary Estates. ADWF now has six different partners:
1 and 2. Ormsary and Stronachullin Estates (the Estates Partners) who own all the land, secured the planning consent and grid connection, and provide the necessary leases.
3. The Ventus Investment Funds (an Equity Partner), specialist renewable investment funds managed by London based Temporis Capital Ltd, which invested cash and structured the original finance agreements with The Co-Operative Bank.
4. Wet & Windy Energy Limited (an Equity Partner)(formerly Lithgow Energy Ltd), a private business owned by the Lithgow family, which invested cash and provides the ongoing commercial management of the project.
5. Lomond Energy, the husband and wife team who helped the Estate Partners get the project off the ground.
6. The Ardrishaig Community Trust, via their ownership of ARE Ltd, which invested about £300k to secure a 1/12th share in the partnership. This investment by ARE Ltd, which has been funded by way of a loan from ADWF, represented around 1/12th of the capital required from the partners to fund the total construction cost. Ardrishaig Community Trust. Ownership details.
How About The Ardrishaig Community Trust & Its Share In The Allt Dearg Wind Farmers Partnership
Allt Dearg Wind Farmers LLP (ADWF) was established in 2009 by the Broadfoot family of Stronachullin and the Lithgow family of Ormsary to develop the wind resource of their adjacent Estates, which lie to the south of Ardrishaig. The Ardrishaig Community Trust (the Trust) set out to be involved at the outset, and following an informal “Letter of Intent” in 2010, became a partner in Allt Dearg in December 2011 during the financial close of the funding deal, and now owns a one twelfth share in the Allt Dearg Community Wind Farm (Wind Farm), via a trading subsidiary called Ardrishaig Renewable Energies Ltd (ARE Ltd). A share of the cash surplus generated by the Wind Farm over the next 20 years will be received by ARE Ltd and distributed as a charitable donation to the Trust, which will use these funds to help facilitate the development and regeneration of Ardrishaig for the benefit of the local community and wider public, following the principles of sustainable development.
How Is The Allt Dearg Wind Farm Paid For?
The total project development cost was originally estimated at £17.4m, after savings on exchange rates (the turbines were paid for in Euros) and construction costs, the total project cost was less than £16m. This was been funded through partners’ contributions (approximately 20% of the total) and a originally a non-recourse development and thereafter 15 year term loan from The Co-operative Bank (the Bank). The Bank’s loan was replaced with a loan from L1 Renewables Ltd (L1)in October 2017. L1 is owned by the Universities Superannuation Scheme - USS is the one of the largest principle private pensions schemes for universities and other higher education institutions in the UK. The L1 loan is secured against the assets and future cash flow of the Partnership. There is absolutely no risk to the Trust as, in the very unlikely event the partnership cannot make the repayments to L1 as scheduled, L1 is able to “step in” to the project and assume financial control until such time as all payments have been brought up to date.
What Has Allt Dearg Cost Ardrishaig?
Community Councillors and Trust Directors put in time and effort, and were closely involved in the planning process. The Trust was also able to obtain the valuable wind data for the site as a gift from a previous potential developer, npower renewables. This wind data was accounted for as a contribution in kind in the partnership agreement, reducing the amount the Trust was required to invest which, as indicated above, was provided by way of loan from ADWF. This loan will be repaid by ARE Ltd from its share of Partnership distributions over the 15 year term of the Bank term loan. The interest on this loan is matched to the term loan provided by the Bank and subsequently L1. Unlike most other community wind farms, the Trust has not been required to invest any external funds, nor has it been provided with any Government, Council or NGO grants or loans. The Trust’s external legal costs involved in the complex process of investing in the Partnership were fully funded by ADWF.
These arrangements were only possible due to the projected productivity of the site (it is very windy) and the associated level of profit and cash generation, which could support the additional level of debt required by ADWF to provide the initial £300k loan to ARE Ltd. Other funding alternatives were investigated, although unlike many other “community” projects no grant funding was offered by the Government agencies dedicated to community renewable projects. The original funding solution offered by The Co-op Bank was the most cost effective option to fund the Trust’s ownership. This makes the Allt Dearg project unique in Scottish community renewable projects, in that it has been entirely funded by commercial investment and loans.
What Will Ardrishaig Get Out Of Allt Dearg?
The wind farm is expected to generate sales of renewable electricity of £3 - 4 million per annum. The total amount will vary with the amount of wind in any particular year and the future wholesale price of renewable electricity. Once the project has paid for the operational costs of service, maintenance, insurance and administration, the cash that remains is first used to make the Term loan repayments and interest payments, and thereafter a fixed profit share payment to the two “equity investors”. The cash surplus that remains is then divided between the “non-equity partners”, including the Trust, via ARE Ltd.
It was initially projected that cash distribution to ARE Ltd would commence in early 2014. However, due to the early completion date and cost savings the first cash distribution was made to ARE Ltd in April 2013. These cash distributions will be in the order of £100,000 per annum, increasing throughout the life of the project as the debts are repaid to the Bank. In a windy year or if energy prices continue to rise, the level of cash to be distributed to ARE Ltd and onwards to the Trust will increase. Over the operational life of the Wind Farm, ARE Ltd are projected to receive and donate to the Trust, total funds in the order of £3 – 4 million.
The projected sums are just that - projections. The figure of £100,000 per annum is based upon the final figures used and independently scrutinised by the Co-Operative Bank’s advisors at the point of the original “financial close” of the bank agreements. The final projected annual sums are slightly greater than originally discussed for several reasons – 1. In the absence of detailed costs and projections, assumptions were kept on the conservative side, prior to financial close. 2. Once the wind data, final farm design, contracted power sales prices, build and funding costs were established, a more accurate estimate of the wind farm’s financial performance could be made.
The actual cash distributions will only be known once the wind has blown and the electricity has been generated and sold.
It All Sounds Too Good To Be True at Allt Dearg, Where’s The Catch?
The Co-operative Bank, who provided the original debt funding for the project, and the Estate partners, who provided the partnership opportunity to Ardrishaig under favourable terms, attached certain conditions to the handling and use of the very significant share of income that will come to Ardrishaig. In the main, these conditions relate to transparency and good governance, with ARE Ltd and the Ardrishaig Trust being required to demonstrate that the funds are being used for the benefit of the people of Ardrishaig. Whilst there will always be differing views as to the priority of the various worthy local projects in the Ardrishaig area, the Trust must be able to account for the funds and demonstrate that they are being wisely spent. This followed the standards of good practice developed and then implemented by the Co-op Group.
Some people for a variety of reasons will remain implacably opposed to the concept of renewable energy and the view of wind turbines in the distance. The Partners at Allt Dearg believe that a wider community ownership structure, in contrast to the majority of utility wind farm developments, offers the best model for wind farm development in combining commercially financeable projects, with the maximum level of locally derived socio-economic benefit.
What Do The Ardrishaig Trust Directors & Community Councillors Get Out Of Allt Dearg?
The Directors and Community Councillors receive no payment for their involvement; if they were lucky they might have got a cup of coffee, a biscuit (plain digestive) or a sandwich when attending a Partners’ Meeting. They give their time and effort voluntarily for the benefit of the wider community.
What Benefits Does Allt Dearg Bring To Argyll?
During the construction of the wind farm in 2011 and 2012, around £3million was spent on local contractors who built the infrastructure and manufactured the turbine towers. The local economy also received a short term boost during 2012, with the demand for accommodation, provisions and other local services required by the construction teams. These are significant amounts in a fragile rural economy like Argyll.
The wind farm now provides secure, well paid employment for the three local men in the Vestas Service Team, and Ormsary Farmers has created a further full time service job. These wages are retained in Argyll.
As part of the planning consent ADWF entered into a long term Landscape and Habitat Enhancement Plan (LHEP). The plan’s objective is to improve the local landscape and environment for wildlife. The aims have been agreed with the host estates and Scottish Natural Heritage, and plan delivery is funded by ADWF. These projects include the replacement of commercial conifer plantation with native woodland around the shores of Loch Caolisport that lie within the South Knapdale National Scenic Area, the eradication of Rhododendron Ponticum (a highly invasive weed) and encouragement of water voles in the Stronachullin Burn area, the restoration of the upland peat bogs around the turbines, the restoration and maintenance of the traditional roadside dykes within the National Scenic Area, and the encouragement of endangered Black Grouse through specific land management. These projects together with the re-routing and substantial undergrounding of the SSE 33kV line between Inverneill and Lochgilphead, funded by Allt Dearg, go some way to mitigate the environmental impact of the Allt Dearg construction works. Once operational Sròndoire Wind Farmers will add additional funding to implement the LHEP.
ADWF and Sròndoire Wind Farmers together provide around £50,000 every year to the Educational Trust, which provides financial support to local young people in Further Education living away from home, Argyllshire students who might otherwise be unable to afford the opportunities of education.
Due to the substantial local ownership held by the Ormsary and Stronachullin Estates, and the Ardrishaig Community Trust, the majority (around 85%) of the “profit” derived from the generation and sale of clean, renewable energy, is retained locally. Depending on wind and power production, the Ardrishaig Trust expects to distribute around £100,000 per annum to local projects designed to improve the lives of Ardrishaig residents. By the nature of this support, the benefits tend to spill over into the wider neighbouring communities.
Ormsary Estate is a significant local employer and user of services. The Estate is dependent of what it can produce and sell, to provide the income that funds and supports the jobs and homes at Ormsary, and underpins the social viability of what is otherwise a very fragile rural community.
The less tangible benefits of Allt Dearg include the new road access used by walkers and bicyclists, and the opportunity to visit and explore the wind farm provided to local schools and community groups.
We believe Allt Dearg and now Sròndoire offer an alternative development model, where utility scale, commercially funded developments owned and operated locally can deliver far more social and economic benefit to Argyll than the alternate models, whilst still generating very significant amounts of wind energy.
The community benefit figures released by Argyll & Bute Council are striking; in the financial year 2011/12 the seven commercial wind farms with a combined installed capacity of 137MW, made community benefit payments in Argyll totalling £161k (£1,175 / MW installed) – in 2013 the Allt Dearg project with 10MW of capacity contributed a direct community benefit between the Ardrishaig and Educational Trust of around £167k (£16,700 / MW installed).
The common benchmark for utility owned Community Benefit payments has recently increased to £5,000 / MW installed. The direct Community Benefit between the Ardrishaig and Educational Trust, is nearly three times this amount, and when the indirect financial benefits of local estate ownership and the resulting expenditure funded by wind farm profit is taken into account, the financial benefit to the wider local community is over twenty times the utility benchmark.
How Much Did Allt Dearg Cost?
The capital cost of construction, including professional fees and the cost to upgrade SSE's 33kV line from Inverneill to the Lochgilphead substation was around £15million. This is spot on the onshore wind construction target of £1.5million per MW installed, and less than the original budget. The project was funded with a mixture of equity investment and a non-recourse loan provided by the Co-Operative Bank, the Bank borrowings were replaced with a new loan from L1 in 2017.
Who Built Allt Dearg?
ADWF retained Natural Power Consultants Ltd of Castle Douglas as Owners' Engineer. NPC were responsible for supervising all the technical and contractual aspects of the project and also carried out the pre-construction ground investigations on site.
Vestas Celtic supplied and erected our twelve V52 turbines. Vestas manufactured the nacelles and blades in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China and they were transported by sea to George V Dock, Govan, Glasgow. Vestas contracted Windhoist to erect the turbines. The 24 tower sections were manufactured in Argyll by Wind Towers Ltd of Machrihanish, and all turbine components were delivered to site by McFadyens Transport Ltd of Campbeltown.
Jones Bros Ruthin (Civil Engineering) Co Ltd supplied the Balance of Plant (everything not supplied by Vestas). Jones Bros subcontracted most of the road and crane pad construction to George McNaughton & Co, based in Lochgilphead, Argyll. The electrical and cable works were supplied by Power Systems UK. Red Dragon built the substation building and various local contractors supplied specialist plant hire and engineering services.
Legal services were supplied by Brechin Tindall Oatts, Glasgow and Brodies LLP, Edinburgh. Financial models were generated by Greenbank Chartered Accountants.
How Much Power Does Allt Dearg Produce?
Each of the twelve V52 turbines can produce up to 850kW at peak output, our maximum export is limited to 9.95MW, so in windy conditions the central site controller will automatically reduce the combined generation to keep within the export limit. Monthly output figures for Allt Dearg are published independently on the Variable Pitch web site (the power output is correct, the financial numbers are not). Argyll homes use a little more electricity than average, because few places have mains gas and we have relatively long and cool winters, so across the year Allt Dearg powers the equivalent of 5,000 homes.
Sròndoire has three V80 turbines each able to produce up to 2MW (2,000kW), the maximum Sròndoire export is limited to 5.9MW and the site powers the equivalent of 3,000 homes throughout the year. There are just over 40,000 households in Argyll and Bute, so the combined sites power around 20% of Argyll & Bute's domestic electricity consumption.
Where Does The Allt Dearg Power Go?
Physically, Allt Dearg exports all its power into the main grid at the substation located next to Stronachullin Farm. From here, the power is carried on the 33kV overhead lines (the largest wooden poles) and underground cables to the SSE substation in Lochgilphead, via Ardrishaig. At 9.95MW maximum export, most of the power produced by Allt Dearg will be used by consumers in Ardrishaig, Lochgilphead and the neighbouring areas. Contractually the Allt Dearg electricity is purchased by Smartest Energy, the UK’s leading purchaser of energy generated by the independent sector. Smartest are also a UK licensed business electricity supplier to large industrial and commercial organisations. Smartest Energy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Marubeni Corporation of Japan.
What Is The Allt Dearg Power Worth?
The Renewable Obligation is the main support mechanism for renewable electricity projects in the UK. The RO came into effect in 2002 in England, Wales and Scotland. It places an obligation on UK electricity suppliers to source an increasing proportion of electricity they supply to customers from renewable sources. Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) are green certificates issued by the Government to operators of accredited renewable generating stations for the eligible renewable electricity they generate. Operators can then trade the ROCs with other parties, with the ROCs ultimately being used by suppliers to demonstrate that they have met their obligation. DECC’s report on the estimated impacts of energy and climate change policies on energy prices and bills, published in March 2012 estimates that the impact of the RO on average household electricity bills is £30 in 2013. For the next twenty years, Allt Dearg qualifies for one ROC per MWh of power exported (there are some cable losses between the turbines and the export meters at the substation). When the green benefits are combined with the price of the "brown" power, we receive between £75 and £85 per MWh depending on the time of year (power is worth more in the winter). In a good year we could expect to generate over £3million in power sales.
Sròndoire qualifies for 0.9 ROC per MWH of power exported, so the combined price for Sròndoire power is about 5% less than the Allt Dearg power price. Sròndoire is projected to generate around £2million in annual power sales.
How Windy Is Allt Dearg?
VERY. With the ridge line rising from sea level up to 477m (1,560 feet) and the hubs 55m above ground, we catch a lot of wind. The average annual wind speed at turbine hub height is around 10 m/s (22 mph), storm gusts can reach over 130 mph. We expect to run with an annual capacity factor of around 45%, which makes Allt Dearg one of the best performing wind farms in the UK. Of course windy weather tends to occur during the winter months when local power demand (and price) is greatest. In January 2013, our first full month of operation, Allt Dearg's Capacity Factor was slightly over 65%. We beat this in December 2013 when the Capacity Factor was nearly 74%. In 2013, Allt Dearg's first year of operation, the annual Capacity Factor was slightly over 50%, the UK average annual Capacity Factor is around 25%.
Sròndoire has a slightly lower Capacity Factor than Allt Dearg, given that the Allt Dearg turbines already occupy the optimal locations on the site for wind. Nevertheless Sròndoire has an estimated capacity factor in mid forties, which will put it up amongst the best in sites in the UK.
How Often Do The Allt Dearg Turbines Stop?
Not often. Allt Dearg has a very high average wind speed, so it has to be very still (or very windy) to stop all the turbines. Turbines are stopped during maintenance and when there is a grid fault or an export restriction due to works on the SSE network. Individual turbines may stop automatically if their sensors detect a possible problem. In 2013, our first year of operation, Allt Dearg was exporting power onto the grid for 95% of the time - the 456 hours in the year when Allt Dearg was not making a contribution to UK renewable energy production included periods of high and low wind, grid and maintenance shutdowns.
Is Allt Dearg Paid Not To Produce Power?
No. This is an issue frequently raised by the media and those opposed to wind farms. The National Grid have long used constraint payments as a standard management tool to balance production and consumption on the grid system and these payments make up less than 1 per cent of a typical power bill. Despite the headlines, wind is not the main beneficiary of these payments: in 2012/13, just 4 per cent of the payments went to windfarms, with the rest going to conventional generators. The total cost of constraints was £170 million, of which about £7.6 million went to windfarms. At less than 10MW output Allt Dearg is too small to make much of a difference to the National Grid, so we are not involved in the constraint mechanism.
Does Allt Dearg Have To Import Power?
Yes, occasionally. The Turbines like any type of power generation plant require power to operate - yaw motors, heaters and control equipment. Normally this power is generated by the turbines themselves, however power is imported when the turbines are not running, the maximum import load is around 45kW. The substation imports all its heat and light power from the grid at 240 Volts. During 2013 Allt Dearg was importing power for 456 hours out of 8,760 hours in the year (5.2 %).
How & Why Do The Allt Dearg Turbines Rotate Into The Wind?
The turbines have sensors located on the rear of the nacelle. These measure wind speed and direction - if the wind changes direction the turbine controller will automatically operate the Yaw motors to rotate the turbine face on into the wind in order to extract the maximum amount of energy from the wind. The nacelles can do three complete rotations before the power cables that hang down from the generator reach the limit of twist, the turbine will stop automatically and do three counter-rotations to unwind the cable before restarting - this is a very rare sight.
How Long Will Allt Dearg Last?
The turbine design life is 20 years (after this the Vestas technical team tend to get a little vague, in fact they are getting a little vague after 15 years given the very high performance of the site!), however time will tell. With increased maintenance the turbine life can be extended. The most likely scenario is that the existing turbines will be replaced with more modern machines when they reach the end of their economic life. ADWF has had to provide Argyll & Bute Council with a Bank backed decommissioning bond, to cover the cost of clearing the site, in the unlikely event of the project failing.
Who Looks After Allt Dearg?
ADWF has contracted with Vestas, using an Active Output Management (AOM) 5000 agreement, to provide long term service and maintenance to the Allt Dearg V52 turbines. Vestas takes on all servicing and longer term component refurbishment and replacement in return for payments linked to the production of electricity. This aims to deliver the optimum Win - Win. It is in both Vestas' and their customer's interests to keep the turbines running in optimum condition. The local Vestas service team members are based in Kintyre. The Ormsary Farmers Engineering Team is responsible for the maintenance and operation of everything outside the wind turbines.
What Does Allt Dearg Mean?
The name Allt Dearg refers to the burn which runs from the center of the site. In Gaelic Allt is a burn (river) and Dearg means crimson or red. The burn gets its bright red colour from the deposits of iron ore and other minerals found in the hill. There were drift mines producing lead, copper and a little gold operating locally up until the mid 18th Century.
What Taxes Does Allt Dearg Pay?
Like all wind farms Allt Dearg is subject to Business / Non-Domestic Rates, the level of charge is calculated on the installed capacity and output (load factor) of the wind farm. As community owned projects Allt Dearg and Sròndoire qualify for partial rates relief. As an LLP, ADWF does not pay income tax, instead each of the partners is liable to pay income or corporation tax on their share of income. The Ardrishaig Community Trust ownership is structured in such a way that their income comes via a charitable donation from the Ardrishaig holding company, so benefits from charitable tax relief.
Who Owns Sròndoire ?
The Sròndoire Wind Farm is owned by Sròndoire Wind Farmers Ltd (SWF), a Limited Company which leases the ground on which the Wind Farm, access tracks and substation are situated, from the Stronachullin and Ormsary Estates. SWF has seven owners:
1 and 2. Ormsary and Stronachullin Estates (the Estates Owners) who own all the land, secured the planning consent and grid connection, and provide the necessary leases. Via Limited Companies the Estates have also invested cash.
3. Wet & Windy Energy Limited, a private business owned by the Lithgow family, which has invested cash and provides the commercial management of the project.
4. Inver Renewables Limited, a private business owned by the Lithgow family, which has invested cash.
5. Lomond Energy, the husband and wife team who helped the Estate Partners get the project off the ground.
6 and 7. The Estate Owners offered the neighbouring communities via the Tighnabruaich District Development Trust and the Tarbert & Skipness Community Trust the opportunity to own a 1/12th share each in Sròndoire, at a price (£170k) which represents around 1/12th of the capital (equity and debt) required from the owners to fund the total construction cost.
The Trusts established Tighnabruaich District Community Renewables Ltd and Tarbert & Skipness Renewables Ltd to make this investment. The Trusts secured long term loans from the Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF) and technical assistance and funding through the CARES scheme administered by Local Energy Scotland. CARES was established by the Scottish Government to encourage local and community ownership of renewable energy across Scotland. CARES is designed to accelerate progress towards the Scottish Government’s target of generating 500MW from community or locally owned renewables by 2020, and to maximise the benefits to communities from commercially owned energy. The neighbouring communities took up the offer and made their investment in February 2015, three months after the project went to Financial Close with the debt funders.
How About The Tighnabruaich District Development Trust And The Tarbert & Skipness Community Trust & Their Share In Sròndoire Wind Farmers Ltd ?
Allt Dearg Wind Farmers LLP (ADWF) was established in 2009 by the Broadfoot family of Stronachullin and the Lithgow family of Ormsary to develop the wind resource of their adjacent Estates. During the Allt Dearg planning process the Ardrishaig Community Trust set out to be involved at the outset, and Ardrishaig now owns a one twelfth share in the Allt Dearg Community Wind Farm, via a trading subsidiary called Ardrishaig Renewable Energies Ltd (ARE Ltd). The landowning developers were also approached during the Allt Dearg consultation process by the two other neighbouring communities of Kilfinan (Tighnabruaich) and Tarbert. Having already committed to have Ardrishaig hold the community ownership at Allt Dearg, informal assurance was given by the landowner developers that should further development be pursued on adjacent land, then these communities would have first refusal on investing in the project ( Sròndoire ).
The Trusts purchased their full allocated shareholding in Sròndoire, and a proportionate share of the cash surplus generated by Sròndoire Wind Farm over the next 20 years will be received by Tighnabruaich District Community Renewables Ltd and Tarbert & Skipness Renewables Ltd and distributed as charitable donations to their Trust owners, who will use these funds to help facilitate the development and regeneration of their districts for the benefit of the local community and wider public. Repayment of the REIF loans secured to fund the share purchase will be made from the income received from the project.
How Much Did Sròndoire Cost ?
The total construction cost of the tracks, three turbines, substation and connection to the 33kV SSE distribution network cost slightly over £9.5 million, including a contribution to the existing Allt Dearg infrastructure.
This has been funded by £8m of borrowing from a new non-bank lending platform managed by Temporis Capital LLP, who also manage the Ventus Funds’ investment in Allt Dearg. This long term debt funding is provided by KKR a leading global investment firm and the Green Investment Bank, which was owned by UK Government. After the sale of the Green Investment Bank, their share of the debt was sold to L1 and Legolas Debt Holdco Ltd in 2017. The owners raised and invested the balance of the cash required.
How Do The Allt Dearg & Sròndoire Wind Farms Differ ?
There are some key differences between Allt Dearg and Sròndoire.
- Allt Dearg receives a higher level of green energy support at 1 ROC, whereas Sròndoire will receive 0.9 ROC.
- Allt Dearg has a slightly higher theoretical energy yield as the turbines are in the prime wind locations, Sròndoire is a little less windy, but will still be a top performing site by national standards.
- Allt Dearg has a mix of local and external ownership, with a 1/12th Community share. Sròndoire is entirely locally owned with two 1/12th Community shares.
- Allt Dearg is 10MW maximum output, Sròndoire is 6MW maximum output.
- Allt Dearg is a Limited Liability Partnership – tax is charged on the Partners. Sròndoire is a Limited Company – tax is charged on the Company. The Limited Company structure has some advantages, but the Trust Owners are unable to shelter income under Charitable Status.
- Allt Dearg funded the Ardrishaig Trust investment as part of the debt funding package provided by the Co-Op Bank and secured against the project without any involvement of Public money. The Sròndoire’ Community Trust owners needed to fund their investments through independent borrowings from REIF, secured against their shares in Sròndoire Wind Farmers Ltd.
What is the Sròndoire hydro scheme ?
Sròndoire wind farm shares the substation and grid connection with a 499kW run of river hydro scheme, this is separately owned and operated from the wind farm. Water is drawn from weirs located on two burns on the Stronachullin hill, the water is piped to the power house located adjacent to the Stronachullin Burn, close to sea level. Our combined grid connection was originally limited to 5.9MW, the wind farm can produce 6MW and the hydro scheme produces 0.5MW at full output - this grid constraint was removed in June 2018, and now wind and hydro can both generate at full output, Having two different generation technologies using the same electrical infrastructure helps to make best use of the substation and grid connection.
Won't it spoil my view and be noisy?
This was a concern with the previous proposal: the Sròndoire design uses three slightly larger turbines than Allt Dearg - on balance it was judged better to have fewer larger turbines than more smaller turbines spread out over a wider area. This solution helps to reduce visibility from the key viewpoints along Loch Fyne. Sròndoire is a long way from most local towns and villages, and those living closer will see very little (if any) of the towers due to the intervening landscape and vegetation. While some homes will have a view in the distance on a clear day (at over 400m altitude, the site spends a lot of time in the clouds), we have done our best to minimise this in the design and blend the new turbines into the existing Allt Dearg towers, but we cannot hide all the turbines from every viewpoint. The experience from wind farms elsewhere in Argyll and beyond, is that the visual intrusion fades in time. Perhaps it is too early to say anything definitive about the Allt Dearg turbines but we expect the combined sites will become an integrated and accepted part of the landscape, as the communications towers on the neighbouring Mheal Mhor site and commercial forestry on the banks of Loch Fyne are today. Wind turbines are a temporary landscape feature. If a better source of renewable energy can be found, they can be dismantled and removed leaving little trace of their existence. And no, if you can't hear Allt Dearg you won't be able to hear Sròndoire.
Will it discourage tourists?
Like many in Argyll, Ormsary and Stronachullin rely on holiday makers as an important part of our existing businesses. We can find no hard evidence that tourists are deterred from visiting areas with wind farms, and while those opposed to wind farms often cite this as a threat, it is not supported by independent survey data or evidenced in any fall off in tourism in areas where visible wind farms have been built. We do know that walking and biking on the Allt Dearg access tracks is proving popular with locals and visitors alike. The site is pretty well hidden from the main tourism routes, with only fleeting glimpses to passing travellers, who are most likely to be taking in the more immediate postcard views of the shore and lochs. In the past it was hydro dams and forestry. Twenty years ago fish farms were similarly said to threaten tourism, but those fish cages, which are visible from Stronachullin and Ormsary and provide local jobs, have had no such negative effect. We believe that many types of land use in Argyll - wind farms, commercial forestry, fish farms, caravan parks, distilleries, etc. - can all co-exist with a vibrant local tourism industry.
Will it harm birds?
We hope not, and based on our experience at Allt Dearg, we do not believe Sròndoire will conflict with any birds or beasts. Stronachullin and Ormsary have a fantastic bird population, including some rare species, over which we take particular care. The site location and design have been developed, after specific survey work, to ensure that the theoretical risk of bird collision with the turbines is reduced to a minimum. The turbines are located well clear of key bird habitats. Furthermore, revenue from Sròndoire will be able to accelerate and expand the Allt Dearg habitat projects at Ormsary and Stronachullin that continue to enhance the area's bird population. There is not much in the way of bats at this altitude.
Are all these wind farms just a con trick to make money for the big power companies and greedy land owners?
Global warming is a real threat to the future of life on this planet, requiring us all to take what sensible measures we can to tackle climate change. We are all entitled to opinion, but science is based on fact, regardless of convenience. Every kWh of clean wind power we will generate serves to displace a kWh of power presently produced from fossil fuels and the associated carbon emissions. No big power utilities involved here, just two family landowners combining with their neighbouring communities, making the most of a great opportunity to diversify their farm income, in order to secure the revenue that supports the jobs and future of those communities, whilst doing a little to meet Scotland's renewable targets.
Why couldn't they build an offshore wind farm or work on some other renewable power?
At present, onshore wind is really the only game in town able to increase significantly our national level of renewable power. Sròndoire builds on the successful Allt Dearg model, sharing the tracks and other site infrastructure to deliver the maximum power generation for the minimum level of environmental impact. Ormsary and Stronachullin are also in the process of restoring and upgrading three hydro generation schemes - We have been involved in renewable energy production for over a century. The Lithgow family at Ormsary, have been generating hydro-electric power continuously since 1913. The Kenneth family at Stronachullin, installed hydro electric generation in the early thirties.
Wind Farms should be built closer to the electricity consumers.
At 6 MW most of the Sròndoire power produced will be used up in Lochgilphead and Ardrishaig, ensuring efficient transmission (we are paid a little extra because of this). We are lucky to have excellent wind at Sròndoire. Most consumers live in less windy parts of the UK and there is not much we can do about that.
Most of the time the turbines aren't turning and the intermittent wind power produced causes Grid problems.
Based on the modelled projections and our short experience to date at Allt Dearg, we expect the turbines to operate at some level of production for more than 94% of the time. Output will drop in still weather and when the wind speed is too high. As the Srondoire turbines are lower down the hill, we expect relative output to be slightly less than Allt Dearg, but Sròndoire will still enjoy a capacity factor well above 40% - which will make it one of the best performing wind sites in the UK. The Electrical Grid is perfectly able to cope with the huge variations in power demand throughout a 24 hour period - it can deal equally well with intermittent power production from wind farms.