Orkney Renewable Energy Ltd
Burray wind turbine; Vestas V52 850kW
There is a long history of wind energy production in Orkney however it was recognised that the fullest benefits were not being made available to the Orkney community. Conventional projects offer a percentage of generation revenue to the landowner, currently around 5%, and local companies have been awarded contracts from design to commissioning. However, all profits from the Orkney wind energy projects initially went to organisations outwith the islands.
The Burray project was instigated within the Orkney Renewable Energy Forum, an organisation established by those involved in renewable energy projects in the islands. A member of the forum has a family farm on the island of Burray, and following discussions it was felt that the companies who had built the existing projects on Orkney could equally design and develop a locally owned project. A dedicated company was established, and a project put forward for planning approval. Consent for a single wind turbine was duly awarded in 2002, and a mechanism of local ownership established.
The Burray project was fully funded by local investment, with all revenues retained within Orkney. In addition there is a local community investment fund distributed each year to Burray Community Association and other charities. The annual income from this project, after allowing for all construction work and operations and maintenance is in excess of £200,000 per annum, compared with a maximum of £10,000 that would normally be made available to the landowner and community. Locally-owned wind energy developments are essential to ensure maximum returns to the community while at the same time minimising environmental and social impacts.
The Burray turbine began generating in 2005, and has been an unqualified success. Orkney Sustainable Energy are Site Managers, and the turbine is one of the most productive machines of its size in the world; total electricity production between 2005 and the end of 2017 exceeded 40,000 MWh.
Blade inspection of the Burray wind turbine
Following on from this success the company was awarded planning consent for a new project on Deerness, the most eastern part of mainland Orkney; the Thorkell project is now fully operational. This is a single Enercon E44 900kW wind turbine, and is providing up to 3500 MWh of electricity per annum. This development was open for local investors, and all capital costs were raised from investors and existing shareholders, with no requirements for bank borrowings. Orkney Renewable Energy have also successfully managed to obtain planning consent for similar scale developments at Berriedale in South Ronaldsay and at Akla in Orphir. Orkney Renewable Energy now have four developments located around Orkney, and are looking to maximise the generating potential from the area. Grid issues remain a difficulty in Orkney, and the Berriedale and Akla projects await the arrival of a new grid interconnector to Orkney.
Thorkell wind turbine, Deerness