Lewis Wind Power is in the very early stages of exploring potential changes to its proposed wind farms at Stornoway and Uisenis, it announced today (30th April 2018).

These initiatives aim to make sure that the company looks at all the potential ways to boost the projects’ chances of winning future auctions for low carbon electricity.

The so-called Contract For Difference auction is predicted to take place before June next year, after a Government pledge last autumn to hold it in “spring 2019.”

The original project consents remain in place. The planning application for the Stornoway Wind Farm was made by Lewis Wind Power (LWP) in 2011 and the scheme was approved in September 2012. Modifications were agreed after a further application in 2015.

Now two additional options are being explored which aim to increase the output per turbine from the farms and which take into account developments in technology since the original application was devised and the growing size of turbines used in offshore wind farms. Taller turbines may mean greater efficiency, for instance.

Looking at the height of offshore turbines, Beatrice Offshore Wind Ltd, currently under construction, will have tip heights of 164m while Moray East, which is expected to be operational in early 2020s will be 204m. Meanwhile General Electric recently announced they are looking to have 260m tip height on the market in the early 2020s.

For Lewis Wind Power, the first possible option would be to keep all aspects of the existing layouts and planning consents, but to seek a variation to allow the project to use larger generators within each of the wind turbines.

The second option being considered is to seek a fresh planning consent for larger turbines and a revised layout. This may mean fewer turbines being built but may also lead to an overall increase in installed capacity.

The company is considering turbines of up to 200m at Uisenis, up from 150m at present and all the same size.

On Stornoway the company will be assessing the potential for tip heights of up to 187m on some turbines, an increase on the 145m models outlined in the current consent, with smaller turbines closer to the town.

Lewis Wind Power say there is still the option of staying with the existing scheme and they can make a bid in a future auction on that basis, even if they decide not to pursue either of the possible options for boosting output per turbine.

The two projects currently make up almost 90% of the consented wind projects on Lewis, making them central to the business case for the new grid connection to the mainland, that is the Interconnector which is required before any additional renewables schemes can be brought into use.

The process commenced today (30th April 2018) with a meeting led by the Scottish Government’s energy consents unit at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, with representatives from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, LWP, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Scottish Government.

On behalf of Lewis Wind Power, Will Collins, Project Manager for Lewis Wind Power, said: “The benefits from developing and exporting wind power from Lewis will only become a reality if island projects win contracts in a competitive auction for low carbon electricity.

“It’s therefore important that we look at all the options before deciding what we think gives the two wind farms the best possible chance of success.

“If we do reach the stage of considering fresh planning applications then we will be actively seeking the thoughts and views of local residents and stakeholders at a series of exhibitions and through a wider consultation process.”

It is understood the changes are unrelated to the legal dispute being pursued through the Scottish Land Court between Lewis Wind Power and four Lewis Grazings Committees: Melbost & Branahuie, Sandwick East Street & Lower Sandwick, Sandwick North Street and Aignish.