Grid connection secured for Bute wind scheme

Wind turbines are now producing power at Barmoor Wind Farm.
Wind turbines are now producing power at Barmoor Wind Farm.

The organisation behind a community wind power scheme for Bute has announced that it has secured a connection to the national electricity grid.

The connection, offered by Scottish and Southern Energy, will allow Bute Community Power (BCP) to export the electricity it hopes to generate from two 250-kilowatt wind turbines at Auchintirrie farm, near the centre of the island.

BCP chairman John Rushworth said: “In terms of viability of renewable energy projects, securing the grid connection is as important a prerequisite as planning permission. This is a major hurdle that has been overcome and extremely good news for the new year.”

The UK’s National Grid was privatised on March 31, 1990, with 12 regional areas covering the whole of the country.

Eight distribution network operator (DNO) companies own and operate the national grid in the UK, with the two regions in Scotland covered by two DNOs - SP Energy Networks, covering the central belt and the Borders, and SSE Power Distribution, covering an area north of a line from the Clyde to the Tay, who both own and operate the network.

An explanatory note issued along with the BCP news release states: “In terms of the grid itself, it is based on a 20th century design of centralised generation plants that feed out to the outer edges of the country.

“The analogy is of the grid designed like a tree, with large, thick transmission wires at the centre, and progressively thinner transmission wires stretching out to the periphery.

“The introduction of renewable energy generation establishes electricity generation at the peripheries that do not match the 20th century grid design. The transmission cables in these remote areas often do not have the capacity to take unlimited electrical generation flowing back to the centre of the grid.

“Many renewable projects have been identified (for example in Argyll where generation is feasible due to adequate wind and wave resources) but because of the constraints of the grid cannot be exported.

“Where transmission capacity is limited the projects are unviable, or have applications for grid connections that will only be realised after upgrades in 2020.

“There are only a few places on the Scottish grid where there is extra capacity for electrical generation to be exported to the grid, and one of those is the Dunoon Hub (the other areas are apparently Aberdeen and Perth). However this capacity may soon be allocated and we were fortunate to be able to get our application accepted.”