History of Burgar Hill
Burgar Hill Windfarm
The Burgar Hill wind energy project began as a research site in the early 1980s, and over the last thirty years has seen a variety of wind turbines installed, originally for research purposes and latterly for commercial generation. The first wind turbines were experimental, and were part of a project completed by Wind Energy Group, a joint venture between British Aerospace, GEC and Taylor Woodrow Construction, that demonstarted that large scale renewable energy production was possible.
The following videos provide the story of Wind Energy Group, showing the prototype 3MW turbine in operation, and going on to discuss the story of the commercial MS3 wind turbine - note that this machine has evolved into the Windflow 500, a two bladed wind turbine now manufactured in New Zealand. The final part of the Wind Energy Group story introduces the new marine energy industry, and includes footage of the Pelamis wave energy device in action.
In the Wake of Wind Part 1
In the Wake of Wind Part 2
In the Wake of Wind Part 3
The Burgar Hill site currently has six turbines, varying in scale from the Nordex N60 1.3MW turbine, to the 2.75MW Neg Micon NM92; tip heights vary from 76m to 116m. The site has been designed by Orkney Sustainable Energy to take advantage of the rolling nature of the landscape, and by positioning the largest turbines off the highest ground and placing the smallest turbines on the exposed hilltops, the site layout appears well balanced. The difference in tip heights is not apparent, and the difference in rotor diameter across the site is interpreted as an effect of varying distances from the viewer; smaller turbines are thought to be further away and larger turbines nearer, although in reality the site layout follows a gradual curve along the ridge. Note that distance from viewpoints by itself does not determine significance; one of the turbines is less than 80m tip height, yet this turbine appears more significant than the adjacent 100m turbine due to the higher elevation and the prominent nature of the location.
Burgar Hill is also adjacent to a Special Protection Area and an RSPB bird reserve, and is one of the very few locations in the UK where very rare red-throated divers can be seen in a native environment: http://www.orkneyguide.com/ogbpdf/Birds.pdf. Lowries Water is a small loch that has had up to three pairs of the birds breeding and nesting in the summer months, and in full consultation with the RSPB the larger wind turbines were positioned to avoid bird flight paths. The birds have continued to use Lowries Water over the last 25 years, and in that time there has never been a bird collision, even though the loch is only 200m from the nearest turbine. Other protected birds on the reserve include hen harriers and short-eared owls, and the Burgar Hill project is an excellent example of a wind energy project designed to avoid environmental impact.